Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wisconsin Continues on the Toxic Free Path

The Wisconsin assembly voted 95-2 to put labels on products that are bisphenol-A (BPA) free. Not quite a ban, but a good way to stigmatize products and companies that are refusing to eliminate this harmful chemical. This is the 3rd state to take action on this particular chemical. State initiatives like this are on the rise as corporations continue to put profits over people by not designing out toxins.

Just last week, a group of advocates released a body burden report (a study of what kind of harmful chemicals exist in a person's body) showing that DDT (banned in 1972), mercury, BPA, and others were absorbed and held in these 6 Vermont residents. What they were trying to prove with this study is that (1) we know that toxic chemicals leech out of products and into our bodies and into the water and soil nearby us (2) if we know it, then the companies who are making these products and chemicals know it (3) if companies know it, why aren't they doing something about it and (4) if companies aren't doing something about it, then the people we elect into public office sure as hell better start doing something about it.

I understand the argument of too much regulation and the stymieing of creative innovation, but when companies refuse to do what is necessary to keep the people who keep them in business healthy and safe, we need someone more powerful to step in. And that's what the people who are pushing for these state initiatives are doing. Corporations have more money to beat back these things, then people have to support and highlight them, but it seems that in Wisconsin, it might not matter anyway.

One more thing, before I head off into the cold, the chemical industry is terrified of this state by state approach to banning toxic chemicals. As they should be. It creates a patchwork of regulation that they have to follow and change they marketing and purchasing procedures for, it creates financial burdens and operational nightmares.

So . . . they might as well eliminate toxic and harmful chemicals from the products and adopt comprehensive precautionary policies now. Because it isn't stopping and as our country is just starting to tackle chemical reform at a national level, it's going to be a while before it slows down. But the good and bad news is, we don't really need a state by state, chemical by chemical approach to protect our communities, we need an overhaul to the entire system. Though, I bet you already knew that.

Take care,
Renee Claire

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