The following is an op-ed from State Sen. Kenneth Donnelly:
Residents of Massachusetts, and especially of the City of Woburn, remember the now infamous case Anderson v. Cryovac where Woburn residents brought suit against a local tannery whose usage of toxic chemicals had contaminated the municipal water supply and subsequently poisoned people simply by drinking their tap water. The media attention that was brought to this case ranged from newspaper and magazine articles, to a best-selling book, and finally a movie, A Civil Action. However, despite the attention and awareness this case brought to the dangers of toxic chemicals, we are still far from eliminating these dangers.
While Massachusetts has made strides to curb the use and proliferation of toxic chemicals, most notably through the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) of 1989, there still remains hazardous chemicals in products we use every day. While TURA focuses on helping industrial users of large quantities of toxic chemicals to reduce their toxic use, currently there is little being done to reduce toxic substances in consumer products.
It is for this reason that I am a co-sponsor and a strong advocate for Senate Bill 2079, an Act for a Competitive Economy through Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals, also known as the Safer Alternatives Bill. This bill uses the highly successful practices established by TURA to seek safer substitutes for toxic chemicals in consumer products and other sources. The act will identify high priority chemicals that are known to have adverse affects among Massachusetts’ most vulnerable population: infants, children, and workers, and work with companies that are using these chemicals to find safer and affordable alternatives.
The average citizen in Massachusetts is unknowingly exposed to countless toxic chemicals everyday: The chemicals in your dry-cleaning, the coal tar in cosmetics, the formaldehyde in your hardwood floors, and the lead found in lunchboxes. It is these types of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, neurological conditions, and other serious illnesses in infants, children, and our workforce. With the passage of the Safer Alternatives Bill, companies would have the assistance of Massachusetts agencies with proven success in reducing the use of industrial toxic chemicals, to do the same in these every day products.
As a firefighter, I have seen firsthand the dangers of these chemicals and I strongly believe we have a social responsibility to prevent the increase of diseases like cancer as well as the degradation of the environment linked to toxic chemicals. Safer Alternatives provides the means for our Commonwealth to do just that, in a way that respects both the needs of our businesses and the needs of our communities. We have the opportunity to protect our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren by passing this legislation, and it is with this in mind that I fully support the passage of the Safer Alternatives Bill.