Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland
PROTECTING MARYLANDERS FROM TOXICS—Maryland PIRG Foundation is working alongside concerned citizens, our members, and our powerful coalition to speak out against dangerous toxic chemicals.
WE'RE EXPOSED TO HARMFUL CHEMICALS EVERY DAY
There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, used in everything from perfumes and household cleaners to fertilizers and industrial solvents.
These chemicals are created to make our lives better, and many of them do. Yet most of them go directly into use without testing their impact on our health, or the long-term consequences for the environment. Given what we know about the potential harm some chemicals can do, we shouldn’t rush a chemical into widespread industrial or commercial use before we know for sure that it’s safe. Certainly, we should stop using the ones we know are toxic.
We’re being exposed to a cocktail of chemicals that have not been proven safe — and this exposure adds up over time. For example, the average person in the U.S. comes in contact with more than 100 different chemicals from personal care products before they even leave the house.
And with these chemicals come an increase in chronic illnesses, and there is a growing consensus amongst the environmental health community that this is due in part to toxic chemical exposure. In 2010, approximately 16.4 percent of Maryland children had a history of asthma compared to a national average of 13.6 percent. And in Baltimore City, the number is even higher. Meanwhile, leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers have increased by more than 20 percent since 1975, asthma rates have doubled since 1980, and autism diagnoses have increased tenfold in the last 15 years.
COMMONSENSE STEPS TO A TOXIC-FREE MARYLAND
Our campaign pushes for concrete steps that will help make it easier for Marylanders to protect themselves from toxic chemicals. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland platform calls for commonsense steps to protect Marylanders from toxic chemical exposure:
- Give communities the right to know: Simply put: if it’s in use, we should be able to find out about it. We have the right to know what chemicals are in the products we buy, that are stored at the factory down the street, or that are sprayed on our crops, parks or schoolyards.
- Prove it’s safe: Companies should be required to prove that a chemical or process won’t endanger our health or the environment before it’s put into use. And once reasonable concerns about a chemical's risk have been established, we should stop its widespread use unless and until independent research proves it's not harmful.
- Eliminate chemicals of concern: Some chemicals are so dangerous, or pose such a risk to our health or the environment, that we should stop their use immediately.
- Zero out toxics: We should require that manufacturers develop plans to phase out the use of any chemical that has been proven to be toxic and replace it with the best available alternative.
None of this is easy, since some of the policies meant to safeguard us from toxics are stuck in the past. And unfortunately, the EPA and FDA have thus far failed to protect us from toxic threats. So to get us closer to zeroing out toxics, we need to work in our state, in cities, and directly with the companies that are creating or using these toxic chemicals.
Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.
The Superfund program was originally funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries, but that tax expired in 1995, and now the money for the Superfund program has come primarily through appropriations from the general revenue.
The Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, a priority of the EPA for four decades, is responsible for responding to the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country, including the 1,327 sites on the EPA’s National Priorities List. There are 20 number of these sites in Maryland alone. The chemicals found there, such as arsenic, benzene, dioxin, and lead, are some of the most dangerous in the world.
A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.
Whether you have a loved one currently in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, or whether you’re shopping for one, you should arm yourself with a list of questions to gauge how safe the environment is. Here’s a guide to those questions, and the answers you should expect.
Tools & Resources
Maryland PIRG Foundation
Phase out meats produced with routine use of antibiotics.
Maryland Public Interest Research Group
COMAR 26.11.32 - Control of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds from Consumer ProductsMaryland Public Interest Research Group
New data reveals widespread use of hormone-disrupting chemicals in cleaners, disinfectants, deodorizers, clothing, shoes, paints, and personal care products.A report from the Environmental Health Strategy Center & from Prevent Harm
Half of Baltimore stores carry certified non-toxic products. Find out where!Maryland PIRG Foundation
Restaurants that serve meat without the routine use of human antibioticsMaryland PIRG Foundation
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