Questions what is really in our shopping carts

To the Editor:

What was on your shopping list the last time you shopped for your family? I’d be willing to bet that the words endocrine disruptors, phthalates, formaldehyde and carcinogenic flame-retardants weren’t listed alongside the items, but sadly it is very likely they were in the cart alongside the shampoo and socks.

I believe most adults, specifically parents, are under the impression that there are laws to ensure that the products they purchase for their children, whether it be clothing, toys or shampoo, are safe. And I was among those millions of parents who expected that if a product was on the store shelf and marketed for children, it had been safety tested. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Over the last 40 years, thousands of chemicals have been introduced into commerce with little to no oversight or requirements to prove they are safe to human health. More alarming is the lack of oversight when it comes to children’s products.

As a parent and an elected official, I am deeply concerned that the United States has no workable laws to protect children from chemicals associated with serious health risks. The federal Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976 and has proven to be ineffective — so much so that efforts to regulate asbestos, a known human carcinogen, were blocked by the courts. Attempts to reform TSCA have been hindered by the chemical industry.

Manufacturers and the chemical industry have, for all intents and purposes, been given carte blanche when it comes to putting toxic chemicals in products — using BPA and other endocrine disruptors in products designed for infants’ and young children’s use, and adding carcinogenic flame-retardants on crib mattresses, infant and toddler car seats, nursing pillows and more. Meanwhile, the scientific community has steadily been producing study after study that links toxic chemical exposure with many serious health risks in both children and adults.

While some large retailers have begun to develop their own policies to address these concerns, it simply isn’t enough. It is vital that there be a consistent message from our government to manufacturers around the globe that we simply won’t tolerate the use of substances that jeopardize our kids’ health.

An Act Concerning Children’s Exposure to Chemicals (SB 126) before state lawmakers this session takes steps to protect Connecticut children by authorizing the Department of Public Health to begin monitoring chemicals of concern in products that expose a developing fetus and young children to potential harm. Lawmakers would receive an updated report on such chemicals every two years.

Armed with the necessary information and possible suggestions on how to reduce exposure to the most egregious of these chemicals, lawmakers can take action to protect their youngest citizens from chemical exposures linked to numerous cancers, childhood leukemia, many developmental disorders, premature puberty and infertility.

We’ve waited for federal reform for far too long. It’s time for individual states, like Connecticut, to take action to protect our future generations.

 

Kim Fawcett

State Representative

Fairfield

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