The Perfluoroctanyl Sulphonic Acid Lobby is Winning Again

Evan Manvel

In three weeks, give or take, I will become a father.

My wife and I have been having long conversations about how to keep our child safe. We’re sizing up everything from cradles to car seats, stuffed animals to diaper liners – working to protect our kid from risks as best we can.

It’s exhausting research, and not something I would wish on anyone. But it's important, and as the Oregon Environmental Council notes, "Even small amounts of chemicals can affect a child’s developing brain and body."

So I'm especially angry with yesterday's news that the chemical lobby is winning in their effort to stop a bill to phase out toxic kids toys, cosmetics, and jewelry -- while complaining about even reporting what chemicals they use in their products.

From The Oregonian:

An effort in the Oregon Legislature to phase out arsenic, cadmium, mercury, Bisphenol A, formaldehyde and other potentially toxic chemicals from some children's products looks on track to fail after intense lobbying from the chemical, toy and business industries.

An amendment in the works for Senate Bill 1569 would require the Oregon Health Authority to maintain a list of 66 “high priority chemicals of concern for children’s health” and would require manufacturers to disclose children’s products that contain the chemicals.

But gone is the third part of the bill that would have required, with some exceptions, a five-year phase-out of the listed chemicals in the products.

The amended bill would target chemicals known to do one or more of the following:

(a) Harm the normal development of a fetus or child or cause other developmental toxicity; (b) Cause cancer, genetic damage or reproductive harm; (c) Disrupt the endocrine system; (d) Damage the nervous system, immune system or organs or cause other systemic toxicity; (e) Be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic; or (f) Be very persistent and very bioaccumulative.

Seems like a slam dunk. And the chemical lobby doesn't seem to have a single decent argument against the bill.

As bill sponsor Rep. Keny-Guyer notes, "We have bent over backwards to make sure our legislation didn’t place an undue burden on businesses while taking common sense steps to protect children from chemicals." Reading the bill - co-sponsored by Republicans - shows it's already chock-full of exceptions and ways to make it easy on the chemical lobby.

Instead, manufacturers whine about even reporting being a big burden. Manufacturers: if you don’t have the list of your ingredients handy and know why you’re putting them into your product, you’ve gotten bigger problems than reporting.

They also trot out the tired “slim margin” argument, which makes absolutely no sense – the requirement applies to just those companies who gross more than $5,000,000. And the American Chemistry Council had $234,200,000 in income in 2011. They can clearly afford a fleet of lobbyists, but can’t afford to file a report or make safe toys? And as a matter of economics, if applies across the board, how does your margin disappear?

The lobbyists then drop the tired “state by state approach” argument, even while the bill specifically authorizes data sharing with other states. By my read, the Oregon action could often be pretty much: "see the Washington State report."

In short, the chemical industry is winning their fight to continue manufacturing products that will harm our children. Just so they can keep a bit more profit for themselves.

It's important we all get angry, and tell senators that Oregonians value kids' health more than the American Chemistry Council. Call or e-mail your senators today and tell them to stand up for Senate Bill 1569, and to phase out known toxic kids products.

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