If you read today’s USA Today, you know activists have sprung a ‘new’ campaign to stop America’s top retailers from selling hundreds – even thousands – of the products that families rely on every day, even though the chemicals contained in those products have been approved by EPA or other regulators. In some cases, the very chemical that is being called out as “toxic” is actually in the product to enhance safety, such as flame retardants in building and construction materials or formaldehyde used in personal care products to prevent dangerous bacteria growth. [VIDEO: Formaldehyde Use in Building and Construction]
This campaign is clearly another PR stunt aimed at big retail brands and meant to pressure manufacturers. If they were serious, do you think they would have taken the highly confrontational approach of springing their request on retailers through the media? Regardless, we don’t take allegations about the safety of our products lightly.
ACC’s members are serious about their responsibility to produce chemistries that offer important safety, performance and durability benefits and that can be used safely. Our members undertake extensive scientific analyses to evaluate potential risk of their chemicals, from development through use and safe disposal. We work with regulators, retailers and manufacturers to provide them with information about our chemicals. And we are constantly exploring ways to do a better job of providing useful safety information about chemicals to the public.
These best practices are being implemented by our members every day, but as evidence of our commitment, ACC has codified them into a new Product Safety Code that has been added to Responsible Care® environment, health, safety and security initiative. All members are required to make the Product Safety Code part of how they do business and compliance will be checked by independent auditors.
But consumers and retailers don’t just have to take it from us. Chemicals used in commercial products are subject to government oversight by six primary federal agencies including the EPA, FDA, OSHA, DOT, DHS and CPSC. And while we believe the current federal system to regulate chemicals is robust, we also support meaningful efforts to strengthen chemical oversight. Working with members of Congress to make that happen is one of ACC’s top priorities.
The combination of industry groups and government agencies working together may seem like a complicated alphabet soup, but in reality it’s a serious undertaking to ensure that chemicals are being used in ways that are safe for our families and for our environment.
Activists may want to diminish this in the eyes of consumers and retailers, but we’re working hard to make sure they don’t.