TOXICS INFORMATION PROJECT (TIP)

Liberty Goodwin, Director

P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940

Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail: TIP@toxicsinfo.org

Website:  www.toxicsinfo.org

(Lighting the Way to Less Toxic Living)

 

4-2-09 TESTIMONY ON H5038, CHILDREN’S PRODUCT SAFETY ACT

 

 (TO PROTECT KIDS FROM TOXIC CHEMICALS IN TOYS & CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS)

 

WHY ACT NOW ON THIS BILL?

 

Ask yourself these questions:  Do I want to wait and see if my child or grandchild proves this concern to be very real?  If a significant number of respected scientists think that neurological and/or reproductive harm can be done to children by these chemicals, is it justifiable to continue to allow this exposure?  Are our kids appropriate guinea pigs - test subjects?

 

WHY NOT ACCEPT CHEMICAL & TOY INDUSTRY SAFETY CLAIMS?

 

Ask yourself who is the more plausible source of information - those who make millions of dollars selling products as now formulated - or those with no benefit from keeping business as usual?

 

**In 2005 Dr. Frederick Vom Saal, professor of biology at the University of Missouri found that 100% of studies funded or carried out by industry purported to find no harm from BPA - but 100% of independent research found cause for serious concern - and some pointed to serious flaws in industry findings.

 

(See summary at end of testimony re: critics’ concerns about flaws in EPA research)

 

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

 

**Phthalates and Bisphenol-A are chemicals known to be present in many toys and products made for use by children.

 

**Studies have shown that these chemicals leach out of products during use, and especially when heated.  Young children are exposed by inhalation of fumes - and by mouthing and chewing toys and drinking from baby bottles and sippy cups.

 

**Studies have also indicated that these chemicals are endocrine disrupters that are associated, even at extremely low doses, with a variety of reproductive and other health effects in animals.  These include obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other illnesses.

 

**Concerns about possible effects of BPA in humans, due to its being an estrogen mimicker, include early puberty and possible later breast cancer in girls and other reproductive abnormalities in boys, including possible low testosterone levels.  Phthalates have been connected with liver and hormonal damage.

 

 

 

 

**A study at the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that mice fed bisphenol A during early development - at lower amounts than what would have resulted in the levels found in most people in the CDC study - become markedly more obese as adults than those that weren't fed the chemical.   Tufts University scientists observed similar phenomenon in rats. 

 

SHOULDN’T THIS BE ACTED UPON AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL?

 

**Absolutely!  However, do you really expect that to happen any time soon?  According to a recent report, right now the Consumer Product Safety Commission has 15 employees, down from several hundred years ago.  They have great responsibilities - which do not include testing and regulation of toys before they are sold in the U.S.  Even if action is taken this year - a big IF - no protection can be hoped for at the federal level for a long time to come.

 

(Also See Comments At End Of Testimony Re: Serious Questions About Federal Research Integrity)

 

**The European Union, and other countries, in addition to the state of California, have already found this concern important enough to restrict the use of the phthalates in question. (A bill was also passed this month by both houses of the Washington legislature, and awaits the Governor’s signature there. No significant economic hardship has resulted from this regulation.  Shouldn’t our level of protection for the young and vulnerable in Rhode Island be equal to that elsewhere?

 

CONCLUSION

 

It makes no sense to continue to expose children to chemicals that raise such serious questions when alternatives are readily available and in use around the world.  Do you want your children or grandkids to be the test subjects for suspect hormone imitators and carcinogens while waiting for 100 per cent certainty about their safety?  Could you look them in the eye if they developed any of the health effects about which we have been warned?

 

 

ONE SPECIFIC SUGGESTION ABOUT THIS LEGISLATION

 

H5038:  This is an extremely common sense bill, vital for the protection of RI children.  Parents concerned about toxic toys deserve no less.  It does, however need to be amended to indicate which agency will be responsible for enforcement when violations are reported.  The bill’s fiscal effect should be negligible - especially since in the case of such action, fines would be assessed.

 

 

 

 

(SEE NEXT PAGE)


SCIENTISTS CRITICIZE EPA CHEMICAL SCREENING PROGRAM

 

Experts Worry Agency's Program Will Miss Harmful Effects On Hormones;

Agency Counters Program Developed In An Open Manner

 

by Sue Goetinck Ambrose, Dallas Morning News, May 27, 2007

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/healthscience/stories/052707dnentendocrine.3a08215.html

 

Scientists say the Bush administration is developing a chemical testing program that favors the chemical industry when it comes to judging whether certain substances in the environment might cause cancer, infertility, or harm to babies in the womb. What's billed as one of the most comprehensive screening programs ever to check whether chemicals can disrupt human hormones, scientists say, may instead prove to be a misleading $76 million waste. Federal officials defend the program, which aims to identify so-called "endocrine disruptors." They say that no tests can cover everything, and that the process of setting up the program has been open and transparent.

 

Article Summary: Scientists began to suspect that manmade chemicals could interfere with hormones in the 1960s. Since then, scientists have documented wildlife abnormalities in areas contaminated with industrial chemicals. Lab studies have also established that hormone-disrupting chemicals can cause abnormalities in mammals, namely rats and mice. And some studies have made correlations -- but not cause-and-effect links -- between hormone-disrupting chemicals and human deformities. Based on these multiple lines of evidence, researchers suspect long-term effects on people -- such as lower sperm counts, abnormal genitals, infertility and cancer.  As part of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, Congress ordered the EPA to come up with an animal-screening program to see if pesticide chemicals had the potential to interfere with hormone systems in people. Substances such as those used in industrial processes or found in consumer products could also be tested at the EPA's request.  The 1996 act said the EPA had to implement the program within three years, but testing still has not begun.  When the National Resources Defense Council sued the EPA for missing the deadline, the EPA said it interpreted "implement" to include validating the lab assays for the program, a process that is still ongoing. The EPA now anticipates that the first round of tests, on an initial battery of 50 to 100 chemicals, will begin early next year.  Charges of poorly designed tests, inappropriate breeds of lab animals, the wrong test chow, failure to guarantee tests on prenatal exposure to chemicals, wrong dosage ranges, and chemical company involvement in test design have been made.

 

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EXAMPLES:  The critics agree that much is known about the tests – and, they say, the publicly available information is precisely what causes their concern. They say the Environmental Protection Agency has:

 

• Allowed lab tests, using rodents, that are so badly designed, they're almost certain to miss harmful chemicals.  For instance, the EPA favors using a breed of rat that is relatively insensitive to several known hormone-disrupting chemicals.  And the EPA plans to allow those rats to be fed chow that could mask the effect of some chemicals.

 

• Failed to guarantee that tests will be conducted on prenatal exposure to chemicals.  Last week, a group of 200 scientists signed a declaration warning that exposure to chemicals in the womb may make babies more likely to develop diabetes, obesity, attention deficit disorder and infertility.  The group urged action from governments around the world.

 

• Demanded the wrong dosage range, also raising the odds that harmful effects will be missed.

 

• Said it might allow chemical companies to tailor certain aspects of the tests.

 

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"If your objective is not to find anything, that's the perfect way to do it," said Fred vom Saal, a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri.  EPA officials say the agency has thoroughly and openly considered the test animal, test dose and animal chow issues.  As for allowing the chemical industry to make decisions on how to test chemicals, the EPA said it is not worried about foul play.

 

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