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Rx for Action

A blog devoted to helping people find local medicine take-back programs and highlighting current research findings and pending legislation.

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Making Safer Personal Care Products: Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 Introduced

How do you know which products are safe to buy for your family if you don't even know what's in them? The Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 introduced in April aims to help consumers answer that question, and many others. The bill calls for increased safety standards used in consumer products, including personal care products. It would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act, which hasn't seen substantial updates since the 1970s. In a nutshell, the proposed bill would:

  • include a new safety standard of "reasonable certainty of no harm"
  • increase testing requirements for products
  • improve product labeling
  • require the Environmental Protection Agency to create new safety standards and prioritize chemicals of high concern, and
  • develop new research programs for green chemistry and biomonitoring

Personal care products, such as fragrances or sunscreen, are among the most frequently detected substances in water bodies around the world. Despite their widespread use, we know little about their long-term effects. Given the huge quantities produced and the minimal safety testing, there is growing concern that personal care products may have unintended consequences for people and the environment. The new bill would increase public access to product information so they can make informed decisions about which products they want to buy.

The bill was originally introduced in December 2012 by Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Senator Kristen Gillibrand (NY), and numerous co-sponsors. But it failed to make it out of Senate Environment and Public Works committee. According to the National Law Review, an alternative version of a chemical safety bill is expected to be introduced by Senator David Vitter (LA) sometime this spring.

The uncertainties surrounding the prospects for either bill haven't slowed down efforts at the state level. Several states have also introduced similar personal care production legislation this year. Massachusetts and New York lawmakers are working on safe cosmetics bills, while Minnesota and Oregon want to require manufactures to maintain lists of high priority, or potentially toxic, chemicals used in children's products.

Written by Corrie Layfield and Laura Kammin

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Posted by Laura Kammin at 9:00AM on 5/2/2013
Categories: In the News Legislation