Chemicals Bill: Wrong Formula for Connecticut

02.06.2015
Issues & Policies

A well intentioned but flawed proposal designed to create a Connecticut-specific list of potentially harmful chemicals was the subject of a public hearing this week by the legislature's Committee on Children.

HB 5653 requires the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop and regularly update a list of chemicals the agency believes are potentially harmful to children.

It also requires DPH to test and recommend regulating, restricting, or banning the sale of products containing the chemicals in Connecticut.

While well intentioned, the bill has significant flaws.

First, it conveys the impression that children in Connecticut are not already adequately protected, despite myriad federal laws, regulations, and standards such as those contained in:

  • The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act  
  • The Consumer Product Safety Act  
  • The Child Safety Protection Act  
  • The Federal Hazardous Substances Act  
  • The ASTM Safety Specification on Toys
  • The Toxic Substances Control Act

Second, the bill assumes that Connecticut’s DPH can do a better job of testing and evaluating chemical toxicity and acceptable exposure levels than top regional and national toxicology experts conducting rigorous scientific, peer-reviewed studies.

While DPH does have a handful of staff experts in one or more aspects of toxicology, the constant task of evaluation and assessment required by HB 5653 would overwhelm them–and is unnecessary given the enormous federal and academic research dedicated to protecting America’s people and environment from potentially toxic chemicals.

Without the benefit of rigorous, independent, peer-reviewed science, the state could be swayed by emotional arguments to establish zero- or near-zero risk, which isn’t practical public policy and will almost certainly lead to unintended consequences.

Third, the bill fails to recognize the unintended and harmful economic impact of creating a Connecticut-only list of chemicals, subject to change at least every two years and with regulatory changes occurring at least as often.  

This uncertainty coupled with the likelihood of regulations and restrictions unique to Connecticut would be a serious blow to many businesses across the state that produce, utilize or manufacture products from chemicals every day.

CBIA encourages the committee to resist isolating Connecticut in determining acceptable risk when it comes to the use of chemicals.

Rather, we urge policymakers to focus on supporting and promoting non-regulatory approaches at the state level through such organizations as the Connecticut Chemical Institute, which can act as resources for businesses that use chemicals to find less toxic alternatives and help keep them at the forefront of the green chemistry innovation. 

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 | eric.brown@cbia.com | @CBIAericb

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