On August 31, the California state legislature made a powerful statement to the chemical industry and product manufacturers by passing AB 1879 and SB 509. These measures establish a program within the state's environmental agency to regulate chemicals in consumer products as well as collect and disseminate information on chemical hazards. For years, BCF has been part of a larger movement to draw attention to the broken system of chemicals management that has existed in the U.S. since WWII. For the past 60 years, our use of chemicals in our every day products has grown beyond what our current laws can control and, as a result, we are exposed to harmful chemicals every day. Many of these chemicals are linked to increased risk of breast cancer, birth defects, early puberty and other health harms.
Unfortunately, even when we know enough about a chemical to take action, the only recourse we had to remove a chemical from a product was to ask the legislature. While important, campaigning around one chemical at a time is an unsustainable way to fix the problem. We needed a solution that would look at chemicals in a comprehensive way and lay a foundation for safer alternatives.
These bills lay that foundation. The program offers the promise of no longer needing to go to the legislature but rather give state agencies the tools and the authority they need to take dangerous chemicals out of our products. It also lays the groundwork for gathering more information on chemicals - information that can help regulators make better decisions as well as to drive the market toward safe products.
This new development is exciting, but it only marks the beginning of our work. We expect the chemical industry to spend their lobbying coffers on influencing this process to suit them and to continue to borrow from Big Tobacco's playbook by producing misleading science and obscuring the facts. We can't let that happen. Implementation of legislation is often harder than the passing of it and we know that this implementation effort will be a large task. Right now we're strategizing on the best way to implement the program and will work to make sure that those who were engaged in the passing of this legislation stay even more engaged as we advocate to make it protect public health.