Friday, July 9, 2010

Let’s Talk Toxics

By Ken Zarker, Chair, National Pollution Prevention Roundtable

Ken Zarker of the Dept of Ecology (left) meets with representatives of the Sierra Club and the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable on creating a national action agenda on toxics.
Many of us are becoming more aware of the chemicals in common products that we buy, such as: Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, toxic flame retardants in fabric and electronics, and lead in children’s toys. Public health and environmental officials are increasingly concerned about the potential health effects from chemicals in consumer products. Many of these chemicals cause cancer or reproductive impacts in humans.

The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) and the Sierra Club of Central Florida hosted a “community conversation” in May 2010 in Orlando, Florida. The event was geared to get people talking to increase awareness of our exposure to toxic chemicals.

This effort is part of the National Conversation involving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The goal is to help form a national action agenda to protect the public from harmful chemical exposures.

Drawing ideas from the recent community conversation in Florida will help create needed reforms at the national level. It’s time to overhaul our outdated national chemical management system know as the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA).

I had the opportunity to participate in the national conversation. Our group brainstormed ideas for involving communities in the issue of prevalent toxic chemicals. Getting input from stakeholders will help frame both our local needs as well as national strategies. As a state regulatory agency, it’s important for Ecology to engage citizens in helping to frame the issue. By working together we can have a more powerful impact.

To get involved in the National Conversation, participate online in Web dialogues and track the development of a national action agenda that will be produced later this year.

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