An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses (H235, S354)

Summary

This bill creates a program to identify and replace dangerous chemicals where safer alternatives are available. The bill appropriates money from a new Safer Alternatives in Products Fee, which is levied against businesses that sell toxic chemicals in Massachusetts. The bill also appropriates $1.8 million from a new line-item 7100-0301 for the “safer alternatives” activities of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, a world renowned institute created by Massachusetts landmark Toxics Use Reduction Act and requires TURI to establish a technical assistance grant program to assist organizations of consumers or workers focused on the impact of substitutions of safer alternatives in specific products, sectors, or uses. The Bill also requires the Office of Toxics Use Reduction Assistance and Technology to oversee an Assist Business to Compete (“ABC”) Fund, requires the use of the “GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals” technology in assessing chemical safety.

Lead Sponsors

Representative Jay Kaufman

Senator Ken Donnelly

Background information

Scientific evidence increasingly indicates that many toxic chemicals at work and at home are contributing to an epidemic of disease, including: asthma, birth defects, cancers, developmental disabilities, diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, and others.

More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been produced for use in the U.S since World War II. Yet very few of these have ever been adequately tested for their potential impact on our health. OSHA regulates a relative handful of these chemicals, regulations that assume an “acceptable risk” level for worker exposure.

The good news is that many toxic chemicals can be replaced with safer alternatives. This bill creates a program to promote these alternatives while protecting the health and jobs of workers.

Over the years, environmental activists have pushed for businesses to be required to replace toxic chemicals with safer ones if there are ones available.  However, industry has repeatedly resisted and legislation has languished for more than a decade.

Massachusetts desperately needs an improvement in our toxic chemical laws. We have a world class organization, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, right here at UMASS Lowell, but unfortunately, as new chemicals come on to the market, or we begin to understand more and more about older chemicals of concern, our regulatory regime is falling behind. This bill helps TURI do it’s critical work of aiding businesses in the transition away from dangerous chemicals and towards safer alternatives. This bill helps TURI do its critical work of aiding businesses in the transition away from dangerous chemicals and towards safer alternatives.

Read more about a previous version of the bill.

Current status

This bill has been reported favorably out of the Environment Committee along with a similar bill (S387).  Awaiting action in the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.

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commented 2013-12-24 14:13:44 -0500 · Flag
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