States Get Tough on Chemicals

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Bloyd

In lieu of federal regulations banning toxic chemicals from consumer products, several states recently made headlines for their own efforts.

News broke earlier this week that Minnesota passed a ban on mercury in personal care products, such as mascara, that’s slated to take effect Jan. 1. As we’ve previously discussed, personal care products in America often contain ingredients linked to cancer and hormonal problems. And while the European Union passed the REACH law regulating unsafe chemicals, many U.S. manufacturers still make chemical-laden products for domestic customers, and cleaner versions for European sales.

This week, the governor of Maine said he plans to include task force recommendations in his 2008 legislative package that call for reducing toxic chemicals in consumer products. Maine’s government is also opting for greener cleaners and less pesticides in state-owned buildings.

In 2007, California began a green chemistry initiative to reduce hazardous substances in products. And last year the state passed a bill to create a biomonitoring program, designed to establish baselines levels of environmental contaminants among its citizens, that can guide future decision making.

While these efforts should be heartily applauded, one can’t help wonder whether nationwide regulations would be easier for companies to comply with, and also be easier to enforce?

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