Washington State Considering New Toxic Chemical Rules

Under new rules just proposed by the state of Washington, many manufacturing and retail giants—the Associated Press (AP) named Johnson & Johnson, Mattel Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores, for example—would be mandated to report the inclusion of some <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">dangerous toxins in toys, cosmetics, jewelry, apparel, and other items.

A list of 59 chemicals, including cadmium, formaldehyde, benzene, and bisphenol A (BPA) are involved, said the AP. Not only would manufacturers be required to report how much of the named chemicals are involved, but their purpose as well, such as for germ killing or plastic hardening.

“We’re trying to get an understanding of what chemicals are in products,” said Carol Kraege, the Department of Ecology’s toxics policy coordinator. “This is the first step toward safer products,” she added, quoted the AP. The proposed rules are expected to be finalized in early 2011, said the AP. Largest manufacturers—those with gross sales exceeding $1 billion—would begin reporting in 2012, with a phase-in for smaller companies to follow, the AP wrote.

Lead causes behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, digestive problems, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. Lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death.

Many Chinese manufacturers have switched to using cadmium in products they imported to the US because they are barred from using lead. But cadmium is every bit as dangerous. Cadmium is a known carcinogen, and can interfere with brain development in very young children. On the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7. Kids can ingest the cadmium in tainted toys by sucking or biting it.

Formaldehyde, an invisible gas that is known to cause cancer, can also cause other illnesses ranging from nose bleeds to chronic bronchitis, can cause respiratory problems, and has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Hundreds of studies have linked BPA to cardiovascular disease, intestinal problems, brain cell connection interference, increased risks of reproductive and immune system diseases and disorders, problems with liver function testing, interruptions in chemotherapy, premature puberty, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. BPA is found in the bodies of 93 percent of Americans and 90 percent of American newborns. A recent study on which we just wrote revealed that human exposure to the ubiquitous estrogenic polycarbonate chemical is significantly higher than previously believed and also originates from a greater array of sources, many of which remain unknown.

Benzene has been linked to cancer, particularly with two types: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Benzene has been shown to induce chromosomal aberrations, or changes.

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