Beyond the CPSIA: Two chemicals down, thousands to go
February 10th was a big day if you’ve got toxics on the brain - as I do. Why? Because, as Ariana Kelly wrote here that day, it was the day the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) went into effect. And while this new law has some kinks to work out on the road to implementation, it is indeed something to celebrate. Because any time there are additional protections for children in our increasingly toxic world, it’s cause for celebration.
When this law passed back in the summer of 2008, the citizen activist in me was pretty pleased. We parents had gotten rather angry during the Year of the Recall in 2007, realizing how unsafe it all was. How few protections there were. How much knowledge, effort and money it would take to shop around the toxic products. And we spoke up. We contacted our Congressional delegations. And in Portland, we delivered gift bags full of recalled toys to our Senators. Because we didn’t want them anymore. We wanted our Senators to find a solution. Which is the CPSIA.
But as much as I am gratified that going forward there will be less lead and phthalates in children’s products – an important victory to be sure – I am hardly satisfied. What about the BPA? The vinyl? The 80,000 other industrial chemicals on the market that we know next to nothing about? And if it takes that much work to address just two of them, I’ll have grandkids before even 10 more are addressed. But I don’t plan to wait. I don’t plan to research and shop my way around it (who has the time, the money, the energy?), or to sit back and allow my children’s physical health to suffer unnecessarily. Nope.
Instead, I plan to see a new system put in place that will prevent toxic chemicals from hitting the market because - unlike now – chemicals won’t ever make it to market unless they are proven safe. A new system will replace the broken one we’ve had since 1976, when the current law - the ineffective Toxic Substances Control Act - was passed.
And I’m glad to report that this new system already has a name: the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act. And with the same kind of grassroots support that spurred the CPSIA, that spurs so much of what Moms Rising accomplishes, we can make this happen. Now. Not when I’m a grandmother, not in 20 years, but now – while my kids are still young. Because it’s when they’re young that their bodies are so susceptible to toxic exposures. It’s urgent and can’t wait. These chemicals are in our bodies, our breastmilk, our children, our wombs.
PS – For some excellent context, listen to NPR’s 2.12 show New Safety Law Doesn’t Mean All’s Well in Toyland.