Scientists, doctors and nurses around the country are sounding the alarm that exposure to toxic chemicals commonly found in everyday household products is contributing to diseases and health problems such as cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, diabetes, and asthma.
Toxic chemicals can end up in our food, water, air, household dust, and most are not adequately regulated. Newborn children and fetuses in the womb are the most vulnerable groups and face the greatest risks as a result of chemical exposure.
The production, use, and disposal of toxic chemicals in everyday household products is costly not only to our health, but also to our nation’s bottom line. Pediatricians and scientists have found that the health effects of exposure to even just a handful of endocrine disrupting chemicals such as flame retardants, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) may cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars in health care expenses and lost wages a year.
We can prevent harm and protect public health by taking common-sense steps, by phasing out toxic chemicals in everyday products that build up and persist in our bodies.
Thankfully there is hope.
Retailers have an important role to play – they not only have the power but also a moral responsibility to eliminate and safely substitute toxic chemicals to “mind the store.” We trust our retailers to provide the best for our families, and believe it’s only fair that they enact sensible policies to protect our health and environment. They should stop letting chemical corporations put public health at risk.
The United States has led the world in scientific innovation for a century. If we can develop chemicals to convert sunlight into electricity, then we can lead the world in developing safer, more effective chemicals to use in our cleaning products, electronic gadgets, clothing, buildings, and food packaging. Retailers can help by incentivizing their suppliers to switch to safer alternatives.
This is now more critical than ever as the Trump Administration’s EPA is weakening the implementation of our nation’s new chemical safety law, signed just last year.
In 2013 Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families launched the Mind the Store campaign to challenge the nation’s biggest retailers to sell safer products that are free from toxic chemicals that threaten public health and the environment. We called on the top U.S. retailers to develop and implement robust safer chemicals policies and drive the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals out of commerce, thus transforming the marketplace.
Last year our report Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals set out to evaluate the progress that has been made and challenges that remain. It addressed the ongoing need for transformational change in the marketplace in order to build a safer and healthier economy for all, and focused on eleven of the nation’s largest retailers.
To evaluate the progress made since last year, as well as the continued need for market transformation, we have updated and expanded our report card. This year we expanded the report card to add nineteen new retailers – thirty in total – including some retailers engaged by our partners at the Campaign for Healthier Solutions and Getting Ready for Baby campaigns. Additionally, we evaluated how the policies of the eleven retailers’ policies that we assessed last year changed or improved since then.
Last year we developed a detailed set of criteria across thirteen major categories to evaluate the policies and programs of leading retailers, as well as their progress in advancing safer chemicals and green chemistry solutions. This year we strengthened and improved the criteria, which now include fourteen major categories, in part to better align it with the Chemical Footprint Project criteria. In this year’s report card, thirty major retailers were graded on a scale of 0 to 135 points, and a corresponding letter grading scale (measured on a curve) was developed to match the points system. To evaluate retailers’ policies, we collected and reviewed publicly available information about their safer chemicals programs, and shared our draft findings with them. This gave retailers an opportunity to review our conclusions, disclose additional information, and make new public commitments towards safer chemicals.
Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals is the second annual evaluation of the safer chemicals programs of the nation’s largest retailers in the United States. It comes just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Our investigation found that over the past year while some retailers have continued to make significant progress, the majority of retailers we evaluated remain serious laggards. The nation’s biggest retailers must continue to expand and accelerate their policies and programs, given the growing amount of scientific evidence demonstrating the urgent public health crisis posed by hazardous chemicals.