Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

Protecting Children from Toxic Chemicals

Posted by: Paul Austin Updated: February 21, 2013 - 10:42 AM

Today, the Minnesota Senate will begin debating legislation that seeks to build on previous work to get harmful chemicals out of the products our kids use daily. 

In 2009, the legislature passed the Toxic Free Kids Act, which directed the Minnesota Department of Health and the Pollution Control Agency to create a list of chemicals used in manufacturing that should be of high concern to parents.  The resulting list included formaldehyde, BPA, lead, cadmium, three phthalates and two flame-retardants. 
 
This year, the groups that helped push the initial research into the chemicals are asking for the next logical step from the legislature, a plan for how to remove these chemicals from local store shelves.  In many cases, safe alternative compounds are readily available, but manufacturers need some incentive to make the switch.  
 
So, the Toxic Free Kids Act of 2013 (SF466/HF605) will require all manufacturers to list the inclusion of these chemicals in their products, and will give the state the authority to require gradual phase-out of the chemicals.  A second bill, TheFormaldehyde in Children’s Personal Care Products Act (SF357/HF458) will require personal care products intended for children under 12 to be formaldehyde-free within a year. And finally, the BPA in Children’s Food Packaging Act (SF379/HF459) will require manufacturers to stop using BPA in all food packaging intended for children less than 12 years old within a year.
 
While this may all seem like common sense, it is amazing how many types of baby food jars, soup cans and kids shampoos still contain chemical compounds that the state has identified as being potentially toxic.
 
I am interested in hearing what you think.  Is removing toxic chemicals from children’s products an important issue for Minnesota to address?  Let me know what you think about this and other issues being debated this year by taking Conservation Minnesota's Two Minute Survey.  

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