Washington Health Professionals Demand Stronger Oversight Concerning Toxic Chemicals!

Dear Governor Gregoire and Washington State Legislators:

As health care providers across Washington state, we are writing to ask you to support the Children's Safe Products Bill (HB 1319 and SB 5231), which will require children's product manufacturers to find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in their products Increasing rates of health problems linked to toxic chemical exposure, like asthma and cancer, coupled with increasing and warranted public demand for safer products, underscore the urgent need for this legislation.

Devastatingly, those most at risk are those whose very lives depend on us for protection: developing fetuses, infants and young children. Children are not "little adults." Children's bodies are still developing, which increases their exposure potential for a number of reasons. First, their metabolic systems are not fully developed and are thus not prepared to process the onslaught of chemical exposures they receive every single day. As a result, a greater proportion of toxicants enter a child's body and stay there longer, allowing them more time to exert their damaging effects. Secondly, they breathe more and eat more and children are usually closer to the carpet or floor where toxic chemicals eventually reside. Add this to inherently risky behaviors normal children do, such as crawling on the floor and putting everything in their mouths, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The real solution is prevention. It simply makes sense: in order to better protect children's health, stop the introduction of toxic chemicals into the environment. Prevention not only saves pain and suffering, but preventing the incidence of disease and dysfunction, is cost effective. Washington State's legislators are increasingly recognizing this and should be proud of our State's leadership in children's health advocacy. However, while we have made great progress there is still much, much more to be done.

Overwhelming science shows a causal relationship between toxic chemical exposures and human health. In recent studies, high levels of cancer-causing cadmium in McDonald's Shrek glasses and children's jewelry, the reproductive toxicant Bisphenol A in paper receipts, and lead in vinyl bounce houses have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer, reproductive problems, and learning disabilities. In a recent study which evaluated the economic costs of diseases and disabilities attributable to environmental contaminants in Washington State, five childhood diseases (asthma, cancer, lead poisoning, birth defects and neurobehavioral disorders) were identified to a significant degree as attributable to exposure from environmental contaminants. Rates of environmentally-linked diseases, like childhood cancer, autism, and birth defects, continue to rise. For example, childhood cancers such as leukemia and brain cancer have increased by more than 20% since 1975.

Washington State leads the nation in protecting our children from toxic chemicals. In 2008 Washington State passed the Children's Safe Products Act (CSPA), which set limits on lead, cadmium and phthalates in children's products, and in doing so, became the first state to enact this type of sweeping legislation. The act also contained provisions to set up a system for the Washington State Department of Ecology to develop a list of chemicals known to cause adverse health effects to children. The CSPA was a major step in helping to identify and phase out the "worst of the worst" toxic chemicals in consumer products, but alone it is not enough.

The logical next step? The Children's Safe Products Bill. This bill, affectionately nicknamed The Children's Safe Products Act "Take Two" does the following:

~ Prioritizes known harmful chemicals for replacement with safer alternatives.

~ Requires children's product's manufacturers to find safer alternatives for harmful chemicals in those products.

~ Puts harmful chemicals on a path for elimination in children's products where there are safer alternatives.

Parents, grandparents and childcare professionals should not have to do a PUB MED search to identify safe toys.

Thanks to innovative solutions, mercury, toxic flame-retardants, lead, Bisphenol A and other persistent toxic chemicals, are being phased out in Washington State and beyond. Soon, but only with your help, Washington will be the first state in the nation to require toy manufacturers to clearly state what chemicals are in their products.

Please help protect our children's health by supporting the Children's Safe Products Bill during the 2011 legislation. Thank you for your support in addressing this critical issue and protecting ours and future generations.

Sponsor

Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility engages the community to create a healthy, peaceful and sustainable world. The Washington State Nurses Association effectively advocates for the improvement of health standards and availability of quality health care for all people; promotes high standards for the nursing profession; and advances the professional and economic development of nurses. The Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition is a broad-based alliance of organizations across Washington state that rejects the trespass of persistent toxic chemicals in the environment and our bodies. By joining together, we strive to ensure our children's fundamental right to be born without toxins in their bodies and to grow up in a healthy environment.

Links

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
Washington State Nurses Association
Toxic Free Legacy Coalition


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