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The President Signs TSCA Bill — And The Real Work Begins for States

It’s official: President Obama has signed reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act into law. It would be great if, with the swipe of a pen, our President could reverse decades of flawed chemical management and put national health protections in place. But it will take time and resources to set the newly reformed law in motion and to ensure that gaps, flaws and weaknesses are addressed. The bottom line here: our nation will continue to depend upon state-grown experts who have been effectively driving chemical stewardship for decades.

Safer State partners will do our part to ensure that the law moves forward — but as we work towards these long-term goals, we’ll also be full steam ahead with on-the-ground solutions that deliver what people across the nation want today: safer products, better information, and healthier communities. You can expect to see states acting quickly to insist on disclosure of chemicals in our everyday lives, restrict toxic materials as health threats emerge, and drive the assessment and adoption of safer alternatives.

We can’t afford to stand by and wait for the behemoth federal system to deliver a safer, healthier world. In fact, we are all living with the legacy of decades of flawed chemical management that has allowed pervasive and persistent pollutants to become part of our environment, our homes, and our bodies. And under this law, addressing the thousands of chemicals in the marketplace that we already know pose a toxic risk could take several generations.

Protecting our health means we will insist on safer products today. Consumers large and small, in partnership with state legislators, doctors and business leaders, have proven that manufacturers and retailers can indeed deliver safer products — if we demand them.

We will also insist on our right to know what’s in our products so that we can make informed decisions about protecting health. States have been the chief catalysts driving better information about where and when we are exposed to hazardous chemicals, and they will continue to do so.

We will spur assessment and development of safer alternatives. For years, state-level innovations have catalyzed advancements in the marketplace and change on the federal level. We will not bench these star players; we will instead put them to work in ways that harmonize with federal law.

In short, state-level policies and market-driven efforts will continue to be powerful, efficient and effective tools to drive transparency, stewardship and safety of chemicals in consumer products. The newly passed federal reform is an evolving first step towards building a long-term solution. But a healthy future also depends upon state advocates who have proven their mettle as creative, tenacious and effective advocates for a safer, healthier world.

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