Merkley wants toxic chemicals out of common products

Merkley wants toxic chemicals out of common products

Legislation would require EPA to ID, evaluate high-risk chemicals

EUGENE, Ore. - Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., visited Eugene on Tuesday and called on Congress to quickly vote on the bipartisan Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to keep children safe from the toxic chemicals that they come in contact with on a daily basis

Merkley also released key findings from an experiment conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund in coordination with Merkley to demonstrate the high number of toxic chemicals that Americans interact with on a daily basis.

“For decades, the federal government has been standing on the sidelines instead of protecting our citizens from toxic chemicals in everyday products,” Merkley said. “The legislation that I’m working on in D.C. is long overdue to protect America’s families, and especially children, from known harmful chemicals that are used in everyday consumer products and often end up in the food we eat.”

Last month, the Environmental Defense Fund partnered with Merkley to help raise awareness about just what chemicals are prevalent in our homes and environment.

Using technology developed here in Oregon, 25 individuals – including three Oregonians – wore a simple silicone wristband for a week. This wristband acted as a sponge during that week and absorbed chemicals found in the air, water, and personal care products.

Merkley was on hand Tuesday with the developers of this technology to announce the key findings.

“The results of this innovative project show that this isn’t a simple case of being a smart consumer and buying the right products,” Merkley said. “Every wristband showed exposure to toxic chemicals that could have drastic effects on the health of Americans, especially our children. It’s clear from this experiment that we need to take action on every level, in Congress and in our states.”

Merkley was joined by Andrea Durbin of the Oregon Environmental Council, who talked about the work being done in Oregon to protect our kids from the harmful chemicals found in toys, clothes and blankets.

The Oregon Legislature is currently considering SB 478, the Toxic Free Kids Act, which would require disclosure and phase-out of 66 known hazardous chemicals from children’s products in Oregon.

"With the Toxic Free Kids Act, Oregon has the opportunity to do our part to protect the most vulnerable among us: our children," Durban said. "The results from these wristbands show us that parents can’t do it alone. Doctors can’t do it alone.

"Protecting our children’s health requires that we all take responsibility and act now. Protecting our health will take the combined strengths of local, state and federal authorities."

The Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century bill would require the EPA to identify and evaluate at least 25 high-risk chemicals at any given time.

It protects the right of states to regulate dangerous chemicals and to co-enforce federal restrictions.

In addition, it provides special protections for those most vulnerable from chemicals — defined in the bill as pregnant women, infants, the elderly and chemical workers. It sets a new fee, so chemical companies will bear a larger share of the cost of evaluating and regulating chemicals.