Protecting Kids and Families From Toxic Chemicals

November 17, 2011
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By Peggi Sturmfels

The national numbers are staggering. Increases in the rate of asthma have risen 100 percent, premature babies 30 percent, breast cancer, 40 percent, impaired fertility 40 percent and autism diagnosis 1000 percent!

New Jersey has seen even higher spikes in these health issues often chalking in data that is the highest in the nation.

All of these health problems have been linked to chemical and environmental exposures by various scientific reports

Strong linkages have been made to the more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals developed since the 1940s and now used in commercial products. About 2000 new chemicals are produced each year with only 10 percent tested for their long term effects on human health. Only 12 of the 80,000 chemicals have been fully tested for their toxicity to the neurological development of children.

Children have also been exposed to other dangerous toxic substances such as heavy metals like lead and mercury.

We have no clear understanding of the cumulative effects these dangerous toxic cocktails have on our children, their interaction with each other in the developing immune, neurological, reproductive and endocrine systems.

NJEF believes the problem lies in an out of date, broken federal system for assessing chemical safety. Most Americans assume there is some system to ensure chemicals are safe before they end up on our homes. That’s not the case.

In 1976 Congress passed the Toxic Safe Chemicals Act.  It has not been overhauled in 35 years.  And in those 35 years, new and sometimes frightening levels of toxic chemicals have been introduced into our workplaces, schools and homes through products used every day.  NJEF is part of a larger national coalition effort, called SAFER, that is now pushing for the possibility of a rare bi-partisan bill to pass Congress.

New Jersey’s Senator Frank Lautenberg (with strong support from Sen. Robert Menendez) has introduced The Safe Chemicals Act that would require chemicals to be tested for safety before entering the marketplace, increasing demand and innovation for new and safe chemicals. This would provide a great opportunity to revitalize the American chemical industry. The bill will be voted on in the Environment and Public Works committee before the end of the year.

NJEF is also joining 32 other SAFER states in dealing with the many ways in which toxic chemicals are affecting our families: toxic toys, water contamination, building materials.  The New Jersey legislature has introduced 2 bills aimed at reducing harmful chemicals in our lives.


Ø    A2259 ( Moriarty-Evans_Chivakula) /S1636 (T.Kean-Scutari-Greenstein_O’Toole): prohibits the sale, distribution, import  or manufacturing of any children’s product intended for use by a child under the age of 16 which contains, is composed of, or made with lead, mercury or cadmium.


Ø    A3293 (Quintano)/ S844 (Turner): makes the sale, distribution or manufacturing of any hard plastic beverage container an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act if that beverage container contains BPA (bisphenol A).

Passage of these two measures will begin to address the decades of chemical exposure our children and families have been subjected to.

Personal awareness and knowledge of our daily exposure and usage can diminish further adverse effects.

For more information on the safety of products used in your home, visit: or contact NJEF’s Peg Sturmfels at



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