Public Health Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING CHEMICALS OF HIGH CONCERN TO CHILDREN.
JFS To The Floor
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Public Health Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
To require the Commissioner of Public Health in consultation with the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Commissioner of Consumer Protection and the Chemical Innovations Institute within the University of Connecticut shall submit a report to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to Public Health concerning the regulation of chemicals of concern to children
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Ellen Blaschinski, Branch Chief, Regulatory Services, Department of Public Health (DPH): The Department of Public Health opposes the bill as currently written. While the Department agrees that government plays a role in identifying harmful chemicals and products sold in CT, this would be a substantial research effort that involves collaboration with scientists in state and federal government and universities across the country. There are tons of thousands of chemicals in the US marketplace that children can potentially come into contact with and identifying them requires dedicated staff time and expertise. Expert Green Ribbon Panels are useful in reviewing assembled data and weighing in on policy choices, but the large amount of work needed to get to that stage would fall on DPH. If such a panel were established, additional staffing with specific expertise within DPH would be needed.
Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW): SB 274 would create a mechanism for identifying chemicals of high concern to children under the age of 12 and establish the Green Ribbon Science Panel. There is a growing consensus that our exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products is a risk factor for many serious diseases. Children are exposed to these chemicals at an alarming rate and as a result there are long-term implications for their health and development. This legislation is an important step in protecting the health of women and their families.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Carolyn Wysocki, President, Ecological Health Organization (ECHO): ECHO is a statewide nonprofit, advocacy, support, education and referral organization for people with Multiple Chemical Syndrome (MCS). MCS is caused by repeated low level exposures to toxic chemicals, or by a single exposure to one chemical. It is a chronic condition usually involving the nervous system. This bill would prevent children from being exposed to toxic chemicals and its ill health effects.
Mark A. Mitchell, M.D.: The bill would require a listing of specific chemicals that may be regulated in the future giving manufacturers the ability to stay ahead of the science and provide them an advantage in the emerging markets.
Industry representatives stated that the federal government is currently regulating and that Congress is moving to further regulate chemicals and Connecticut would duplicate their efforts. However, the industry has shown a lack of seriousness about chemical policy reform on the federal level and it is incumbent on Connecticut to continue to take actions to protect its residents from the effects of toxic chemicals.
The American Chemistry Council and the Toy Industry Association representatives stated that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving to protect public health through new regulations with specific chemical action plans. EPA has indicated that they will try to assess 83 of the 84,000 chemicals registered with them as potentially used for consumer products. These assessments could take decades under current law. The federal system of health protections from chemicals clearly does not work and there is no reason to believe that it will be fixed any time soon.
It has been stated that this bill will drive jobs from Connecticut and very costly, but this is not true. The bill would allow regulation of the safety of children's products sold in the state, not those manufactured in state. A similar bill in Maine was estimated by their state to have no cost to the state. This bill would also compliment the Chemical Innovations Institute, which was established in 2010, to work with businesses to identify safer alternatives to toxic chemicals for specific industrial uses by driving the market away from toxic children's products.
Chemical manufacturing and toy manufacturing for commodity products have moved overseas long ago, due to the lower cost of manufacturing. This bill would create more of a demand for innovative chemicals and products that are characteristic of US manufacturing, which would create more US jobs, and in conjunction with the Chemical Innovations Institute, would create more jobs in Connecticut.
Nadine Fraser, M.D.: There are over 82,000 chemicals used in the manufacture of products; unfortunately most of these chemicals have never been tested for safety to the general public and especially children. Certain chemicals have been linked in clinical research studies to the increased incidence of environmentally induced cancer and other medical conditions.
This bill will give us the opportunity to identify particular chemicals found in consumer products, to study the effects of these chemicals and to provide awareness to consumers via effective labeling. We cannot get rid of all chemicals but we should strive to mitigate the negative effects for the most vulnerable.
Anne Hulick, RN, Coordinator, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut (CSHC): SB 274 sets up a realistic, sustainable and cost-effective program to identify chemicals of high concern to children and establish recommendations to reduce exposure. The Green Ribbon Panel will provide support and science based guidance when making recommendations.
While industry representatives will argue that a system such as the one being considered will yield enormous costs with no public health benefits, the Coalition suggests that the staggering cost of health care in this country be factored into the equation. Federal laws regulating consumer products and toy safety are inadequate to protect children from exposure to harmful chemicals.
Gretchen Raffa, Planned Parenthood, Southern New England: Scientific evidence shows some industrial chemicals, called hormone disruptors can cause serious risk for women's health such as infertility, breast cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, miscarriage and shortened lactation. Chemicals like Bisphenol-A is a hormone disruptor which can mimic natural estrogen. Studies have shown that the chemical is harmful at low and high doses of exposure and may cause irreversible problems with the reproductive system. Hazardous chemicals in everyday products such as cosmetics, personal care products, cleaning products, our environment and in things we touch every day get into women's bodies, breast milk, and in the uterus.
No chemicals are currently regulated under the Toxic Substance Control Act because of their potential harm to reproductive or development. With federal reform efforts not likely to pass anytime soon, SB 274 takes meaningful steps towards identifying chemicals of high concern and establishing a sustainable process to reduce exposure or given citizens needed information.
Susan Eastwood, Director of Communications and Outreach, Clean Water Action and the Coalition for a Safe and healthy CT: Scientific research links exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday products with the rising incidence of many serious diseases; such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, asthma, infertility and learning disabilities. The federal reform efforts are unlikely to pass in the near future so states need to lead the way. SB 274 sets up realistic, collaborative system with our state agency experts and a “green ribbon science panel” of state experts to review research and other state lists as well as that of international bodies so we don't duplicate efforts.
Martin Mador, Volunteer Legislative Chair, Sierra-Club, CT Chapter: Based on sound medical and scientific research, exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products has been found to be a significant risk factor for disease. This bill doesn't ban anything, instead it requires the agencies to collect information on what is dangerous to children, to assemble a list, and report back to the legislature. SB 274 would have the state advise manufacturers on chemicals they should avoid in products destined for children's use.
Dr. Hans Laufer, University of Connecticut, Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology: Research for over 10 years indicates that our marine environment is heavily contaminated with alkylphenols, including bisphenol A. These compounds are hormonally active endocrine disruptors affecting marine organisms as well as humans who consume these species.
I would recommend removing bisphenol A from can liners since this material gets into contents of the can and is ingested in substantial amounts. Healthier substitutes can be found to accomplish the same results.
Margaret Minor, Executive Director, River Alliance: We advocate for more transparency in the pending General Permit for the use of pesticides in water. The public should have access to information on the characteristics of chemicals in the environment, including in what quantities they are present, and in what locations. Many of these pesticides are similar to the substances that would be identified with SB 274. These include endocrine disruptors, neurotoxcins, and carcinogens. The residents of Connecticut deserve to have publicly available, searchable data base for toxins in our homes and environment so that they can analyze the data and minimize risk.
Joe Grabinski,Teamsters Local Union 1150: We support the language in SB 274 because we believe that it is a realistic and collaborative system among experts who will begin the process to reduce exposure or educate consumers about the potential exposures.
Toxic chemical exposure can be directly attributed to increasing the number of cancers, asthma, behavior disorders, and other chronic disease. If there is a decreased exposure to toxins, it could subsequently lead to declining disease rates, and ultimately to health care cost savings.
Kelly Rago, Advocacy Committee, CT Public Health Association (CPHA): There is a growing movement to reform US chemical policy. In the past few years several attempts to pass reform efforts at the federal level have failed. The Inspector General of the EPA considers the country's chemical policy to be inadequate in ensuring the safety of chemicals in the United States. States like California, Massachusetts, and Maine have taken the lead, filling in the gaps left by the American chemical policy. Under Maine's bill, chemicals are reviewed and prioritized based on the level of concern and the manufacturers must reveal toxic chemicals used in products. Maine's goal is to identify a list of 1,751 “chemicals of concern” and from that list, 70 would be labeled as “chemicals of high concern”, to be considered priorities for regulation, by July 1, 2012.
CPHA supports the reduction and eventual elimination of toxic chemicals in consumer products in order to improve the health of Connecticut citizens, particularly children. Once the list has been established, the state can then mandate a safer alternative to these toxic chemicals.
John Murphy, CT Citizens Action Group (CCAG): This legislation would reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and makes sense for the following reasons:
● Moves forward on the identification of chemicals of high concern, since federal reform efforts failed, and establishes a sustainable process to reduce exposure and give citizens needed information
● Sets up a realistic, collaborative system with our state agency experts and a “Green Ribbon Science Panel” to review research and other state lists as well as that of international bodies
● The 'Green Ribbon Science Panel” will assist agency staff by providing additional guidance and support, similar to the model used in California
● Continues Connecticut's leadership in protecting citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, from toxic chemicals
● Establish a process for doing this important work without adding additional costs. The state of Maine passed their bill with no fiscal note
● Taking steps to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals will ultimately reduce healthcare costs
● Informs parents and assists them in making informed decisions about harmful chemicals and products for their children
Mary Jane Williams, Connecticut Nurses' Association (CAN): We ask that Connecticut be proactive in banning hazardous chemicals to children, which are found in an array of children's products. All of these chemicals are potentially harmful to children and their development. Manufacturers of children's products should be required to use safer alternatives. Phasing out as many chemicals of concern as possible is essential to the health of our children.
Sheri Gillette, Teresa Eickel, Laura Anderson, Ann Berman, Rhonda Sherwood, Hacah Boros, Lori A. Postemski, and Beka Apostolidis all submitted testimony in support of SB 274. They provided personal stories on the effects of harmful chemicals.
Sarah Uhl, President, Yale Environmental Health Group; Jean Graustein, Office for Catholic Social Justice; Valentine Doyle, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice; Dan Fischer, Fairfield County Environmental Justice Network (FCEJN); Joyce Acebo-Raguskus, Chair Diesel Cleanup, Environmental Concerns Coalition; and Laila A. Mandour, President, Administrative and Residential Employee Union: all recognize the ineffectiveness of federal chemicals legislation and the growing evidence of published, peer reviewed literature regarding the public health impacts of chemicals of concern.
American Cleaning Institute (ACI): ACI is dedicated to improving health and the quality of life through sustainable cleaning products and practices and supports SB 274.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Sean Moore, Director, Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA): SB 274 would establish an expensive regulatory system which would duplicate other state and federal efforts and would provide no benefit to Connecticut consumers.
There are several issues of concern CSPA would like to address, first the legislation is overly broad with the definition of “children's product” which encompasses “any product” that comes into contact with a child under 12. State agencies are charged with identifying chemicals of high concern to children based on various criteria, including whether or not the chemical is added to or present in a consumer product. The presence of a chemical in a given product does not indicate harm. It is important that highly experienced experts make scientific safety assessments to ensure products may be used safely and not present an unreasonable risk to humans or the environment. Another issue of concern is the state does not have the required resources and personnel in order to collect and process the required information.
Toy Industry Association (TIA): TIA has serious concerns with individual state chemical and product regulations. Standards that are inconsistent with international, federal or other state requirements make compliance difficult and costly, threatening the viability of toy manufacturers, distributors and retailers in Connecticut.
Another concern is there is no option for a product manufacturer to demonstrate that the risks associated with the use of a chemical are adequately controlled in their product formulations. This would be critical to ensure viable and safe products remain on the market.
Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA): GMA and its member companies support the intent of this legislation but believe that it falls short. This legislation fails to establish a foundation of credible scientific evidence. A credible, peer-reviewed scientific process should be clearly defined. SB 274 also fails to address the process to rank chemical/product use pairs for further consideration. The mere presence of a particular chemical in biomonitoring and environmental monitoring in consumer products does not equate with a safety concern.
Another area of concern is the consideration of the true cost of implementing this bill. SB 274 does not appropriate any additional funding and makes no effort to support the scientific and academic needs of the proposed “Green Ribbon Science Panel” or the state agencies charged with carrying out the provisions.
American Chemistry Council: Any legislation to protect the public or children in particular from exposure to “chemicals of concern” must be based on science if it is to provide any benefit to the public health of its citizens.
The methodology used to establish the list of chemical of concern to children relies on other lists of chemicals developed for a variety of different purposes and under different conditions. This is a very crude method and would likely produce a long list of chemicals, not priorities.
Another flaw to this legislation is that once the list of chemicals of high concern is established, the legislation requires the Department of Public Health to develop recommendations to “address” the chemicals and to “address the sale” of the chemicals in children's products in the state through labels or bans.
Identifying priority chemicals for potential chemical regulation is an important first step in sound chemicals management program, but moving from a preliminary, screening level straight to action on the chemical is not science-based.
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: The definition of “children's product” is specific to those marketed for the use by children under twelve years of age, the Alliance strongly recommends providing an explicit exemption for motor vehicles and component parts within the definition. This exemption will provide clarity that automobiles are not included inadvertently within the definition, particularly since car seats are not defined.
The Alliance recommends the following amendment to address the stated concerns:
(2) “Children's product” means a consumer product intended for, made for or marketed for use by children under twelve years of age. Children's product includes baby products, toys, car seats, personal care products and clothing, and any consumer product containing a chemical of high concern that when used or disposed of will result in a child under twelve years of age or a fetus being exposed to that chemical. “Children's Product” does not include over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, food dietary supplements, packaging, medical devices, motor vehicles and component parts, and products that are both a cosmetic and a drug regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration. A product label that includes usage instructions for a product that applies to children does not in and of itself establish that the product is a children's product;”
Reported by: Lori Littmann