Voters for the Next Generation: Safer Chemical Reform

In this year's turbulent political election season, it's more important than ever to be engaged and act upon critical issues such as climate change, public health, and family leave.

In the United States, there are a number of policies that are broken—from workplace equality, and climate change to chemical reform and ingredient disclosure. These issues are not only problematic for our world, but there could be serious health, environmental, and societal effects on our children and future generations if left unaddressed.

Seventh Generation is committed to helping inspire positive change for a more conscious and sustainable world. In our 2016 Voters for the Next Generation blog post series, we're highlighting broken policies, including ingredient disclosure, that together we must change for the sake of our future and the planet.

What's Broken

Chemicals of concern are everywhere—in cosmetics, cookware, vinyl blinds, carpeting, and furniture. Certain chemicals used in everyday products are increasingly linked to cancer, infertility, asthma, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other illnesses. Some of these chemicals may pose threats to public health and the environment because they do not break down in the environment and they build up in the food chain and the human body.

For decades, chemicals in everyday products were never tested for safety. Equally frightening is that there is no inventory of chemicals in active use. The Toxic Substances Control Act—first passed 40 years ago to ostensibly regulate household and industrial compounds—was badly broken from its start.

As a result, tens of thousands of potentially harmful chemicals continue to be used in the marketplace without proper testing and without disclosure by the companies that produce them.

Fortunately, the Toxic Substances Control Act was updated in 2016 to give the EPA broader powers to regulate chemicals. Now named the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the updated law:

  • Requires the EPA to review the safety of all new and existing chemicals, with clear priority-setting and concrete deadlines for decisions and regulatory action
  • Gives EPA new power to require testing and limit companies' ability to hide information about chemicals as "trade secrets"
  • Explicitly requires protection of vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women

What We Believe at Seventh Generation

The Lautenberg Act is a start in the right direction, but more can be done. Where federal regulation has fallen short, states have an opportunity to lead the way.

We strongly believe that states have the right to protect their residents if the federal government fails to do so or is slow to act. Science, not industry influence, must drive policy, and scientific integrity must be protected from undue industry influence.

Seventh Generation has worked at the state level here in Vermont for chemical transparency in children's products. As of July 1, 2016, manufacturers who use chemicals designated by the State of Vermont as "Chemicals of High Concern to Children" must disclose information about these chemicals to the Department of Health. We also circulated a petition and collected 150,000 signatures demanding that Congress enact safer chemical reform.

Join us in demanding greater accountability at both the state and federal levels.

Learn More from Our Partners Who Advocate Tirelessly for Safer Chemical Reform:

  • Safer Chemicals Healthy Families
    The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition represents more than 11 million individuals and includes parents, health professionals, advocates for people with learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive health advocates, environmentalists, and businesses from across the nation.
  • Environmental Working Group
    The Environmental Working Group's mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. EWG's groundbreaking research has changed the debate over environmental health. EWG's team of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, communication experts and programmers has been committed to make sure someone is standing up for public health when government and industry won't.
  • Healthy Child Healthy World
    Healthy Child Healthy World, powered by Environmental Working Group, empowers parents to take action and protect children from harmful chemicals. Healthy Child Healthy World creates targeted educational resources so parents and caregivers can make informed decisions to protect the health and development of our most precious resource--our children.

Where does your state representative stand?

States have an opportunity to lead the way. Before you vote, find out what's happening in your state and where your candidate stands on toxic chemical reform.

Find out what's happening in your state

Be a voter this November 8.

Commit to voting this year. Make a plan right now for getting to the polling booth. Set an appointment reminder on your phone. Your vote matters.

Find your polling place and see who's on the docket.