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Advocacy Impact: a look at victories from three states

 Welcome back to our celebration of the victories and momentum on toxic chemicals this year! Today we are highlighting important advocacy work from four states—California, New York, Minnesota and Washington—that is making a positive impact on the health and resilience of their communities. Their work pushed companies to move away from the most toxic chemicals and, in some cases, to also disclose information on whether or not certain toxic chemicals are in their products. If you missed the last update, you can find it here.

CALIFORNIA: Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two significant new measures that will make cosmetics and personal care products safer. As a result of one of the laws, the state is now the first in the nation to ban cosmetics if they contain any of a list of 24 toxic chemicals. The second law mandates companies to tell consumers about fragrance and flavor chemicals added to personal care and beauty products.  California also adopted a law to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of firefighting foam containing PFAS. This is significant because firefighting foam is one of the most significant sources of PFAS water contamination.

NEW YORK: After a decade of work, New York advocates secured a momentous victory as in February 2020 Governor Cuomo signed the Child Safe Products Act into law. The law bans certain toxic chemicals in children’s products and requires manufacturers to disclose the inclusion of chemicals in children’s products. Tremendous efforts by advocates and allies are to be credited—great job, New York team!

MINNESOTA AND NEW YORK: In May, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to regulate toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE)! This volatile organic compound is used in manufacturing processes and consumer products such as spot removers and shoe polish. It is classified as a human carcinogen and linked to fetal heart defects. The new law bans the use of TCE in any facility required to have a state-issued air permit, including in any manufacturing, processing, or cleaning processes. New York state followed closely after with its own bill to ban TCE that is pending signature from the Governor. We are hopeful that Minnesota and New York are just the first of many states to act. This is crucial as the federal government has failed to regulate commercial uses of TCE.

We have one more update for you, where we’ll look at the movement towards cleaning up chemicals and protecting communities, as well as a peek into the world of holding chemical companies accountable for the problems they’ve caused. Check back with us for our fourth installment!

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