Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida/National News

Chemical Legislation: Reading Between Lines, Underneath Label

TALLAHASSE, FL - These days it's not uncommon to find Floridians reading product labels, but they might be curious to know the products' ingredients that aren't listed.

Legislation before Congress claims to offer consumers greater protection against potentially harmful chemicals.

But Kathy Aterno, Florida director of the Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund, says the bill would move the country backwards in terms of protection.

Clean Water Action Florida
Chemicals in Commerce Act
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
The Hazardous 100+ Action Guide

"It really doesn't provide the regulatory structure and the tools that the EPA needs to look at new
chemicals that are on the market, or even existing chemicals," she stresses.

Critics say the federal Chemicals in Commerce Act - currently in the Energy and Commerce Committee - has weak standards to determine whether a chemical is safe and maintains the ability of chemical companies to refuse to disclose ingredients such as formaldehyde and arsenic.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida is on the House committee and says in a statement he believes the act will modernize federal law so that the public is protected.

Last year Florida lawmakers considered a similar state bill. It did not pass, but the current legislation in Washington would prevent the enforcement of any future state laws regarding chemicals in products.

According to Clean Water Action, formaldehyde - a confirmed carcinogen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - is found in many soaps, shampoos and other personal hygiene products.

Benzene is another chemical known to cause cancer and is found in plastics, balloons and scented children's toys.

Aterno says consumers have a right to make educated decisions.

"We go to the grocery store or the drug store and purchase hair products, products for our children," she says. "And you don't know what you are bringing into your house."

According to analysis by the group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, the current draft of legislation weakens the EPA's oversight of new chemicals.

Supporters insist the bill would offer adequate regulation to protect consumers.

Photos/graphics, layout added by the Observer

Photo: John Clarke Russ, Bangor Daily News


This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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