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Report Reveals Top Retailers Making Major Chemical Safety Advances

A new report finds many of North America’s largest retail companies are embracing chemical safety policies to help protect consumers from toxic chemicals in products.

The fourth annual "Who’s Minding the Store? A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals”evaluated and graded the chemical policies and practices of 43 retail chains with more than 190,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

It’s part of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign.

Kathy Curtis is Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York.   "It's routine for the presence of toxic chemicals to be found in children's products. You name it. Sleeping, eating, transport, bedding, bathing, playing, all of the aspects of their day. These chemicals have been associated with a number of health problems, learning disabilities, neuro developmental toxicants, cancer, asthma, and a number of a host of other health problems. It's avoidable. There are products that are safe, and you know, products that contain these carcinogens, and you know, toxic and cetera. And they could be right next to each other on a store shelf and a parent could not know which is which they look exactly the same, because they don't have to tell us."

The good news is that in the largest-ever analysis of its kind, 63% of companies evaluated in the report improved over the past year alone.  Bobbie Wilding is Deputy Director of Clean And Healthy New York.  "These retailers are taking steps to increase their transparency about what they're purchasing from their vendors and offering for sale to consumers. And they are requiring companies to screen out the worst toxic chemicals and establishing clear procedures and timelines for making that happen. We're most interested in the rapid increase for Buy Buy Baby and its parent company Bed Bath & Beyond. They moved their score up by 20 points this year, starting a new policy to screen out harmful chemicals in baby personal care products, so shampoos and baby lotion. They've also been taking action to avoid a whole class of harmful chemicals that end up getting used as flame retardants."

Wilding notes all 11 retailers graded yearly dramatically improved their average grade from a D+ in 2016, the first year of the report card, to a B- this year. For the second year in a row, four retailers received the highest grades for their work to protect customers from toxic products and packaging: Apple (A+), Target (A), Walmart (A) and IKEA (A-).

Several social justice organizations are urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the Child Safe Products Act, sponsored by fellow-Democrat and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright.   "The bill requires product makers to inform if harmful chemicals are in what they sell. It also creates a framework for reporting and banning additional dangerous products in children's products going forward."

The report (read it HERE) handed 14 retailers, about a third of the companies evaluated, an F grade for failing to adopt even basic public safer chemicals policies to address toxics that may be in their products and packaging.

Child Safe Product Act Fact Sheet:  https://www.cleanhealthyny.org/stronger-laws

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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