Lawmakers and Advocates Release Report on Toxics and Public Health

Annapolis, April 1, 2011- Scientists are uncovering a growing body of evidence that the widespread use of chemicals in our society harms our health and the health of our children. The incidence of many serious health problems – including premature birth, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, asthma and allergies, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, reduced fertility, and some types of cancer – shows links with exposure to chemicals that can interfere with the process of growth and development.

In this report, we tell the story of the insidious impact of toxic chemicals, from the plastic ingredient bisphenol A to pesticides, reviewing more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Over and over again, manufacturers have introduced new compounds into commerce – and only later do scientists discover these substances accumulating in our bodies or contributing to major health problems. Moreover, once the impact of a toxic chemical on our health becomes clear, barriers built into our chemical regulatory systems often prevent meaningful action. Manufacturers become tied to the profits chemical sales can generate, and exposure to offending substances continues.

It is unacceptable to use human lives – even unintentionally – as a giant uncontrolled experiment. Until our society reforms the way we regulate chemicals, this story will be rewritten time and again. Maryland should remove the most dangerous substances from commerce and require manufacturers to ensure that the chemicals used in everyday products are safe for our families and our communities.

“Our children are literally growing up toxic,” said Maryland PIRG Public Health Associate Jenny Levin. “From the time they are conceived, children are bombarded with hundreds of chemicals known to cause cancer, learning disorders, asthma, and reproductive problems like early puberty and infertility. What’s most disturbing is that our regulatory agencies are powerless to protect us. While science has advanced to better grasp the link between chemicals and disease, public policy has not kept up.”

 “Our children should have a safe and healthy community to grow up in, but unfortunately, products all around our homes can contain known toxins. As father of two toddlers, I know we can do more as a state to protect children and families. A comprehensive chemical safety program would prioritize toxins of concern to children’s health, allowing us to decide where action is needed more quickly,” said Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, sponsor of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland Act.