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Workshop informs on bill to regulate toxins and water issues

By Sam Fletcher

A bill that would regulate toxins in products used by children is before the Washington State Legislature.  Information about that bill was presented during a workshop on environmental issues at the 2012 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference on Jan. 21 at the Cathedral of St. John.

Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light and Rachael Osborn of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy discussed issues affecting their lives and habitat.

Jessie told about about the “Toxic-Free Kids Act” (SB 6120/HB 2266), which aims to protect children from harmful chemicals.

“We would think the federal government would have an agency to regulate the chemicals in consumer products,” she said.

Distinguishing between consumer products—such as toys, furniture, cosmetics—and food and pharmaceuticals, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Jessie said current law allows industry to self-regulate what chemicals it deems unsafe to use in its own products—sometimes, in contradiction of scientific findings. This includes products manufactured in China for U.S. companies.

The Toxic-Free Kids Act will ban Tris flame retardants in children’s products. Tris is known to cause cancer, she said, and was removed from baby’s sleepers in the 1970s. The bill also bans BPA (bisphenol A), formaldehyde and antimony in children’s items, and asks manufacturers to disclose other chemicals of concern in their products.  For information, visit

Rachel, who specializes in legislative issues on water use and quality, said water issues are “mostly on the defensive” in the state legislature.

She said dry areas in Washington are under threat from large farming operations that have nearly unregulated access to well water. One industrial feed lot in Eastern Washington was pumping a million gallons a day from the ground in a farming community that receives only nine to ten inches of rainfall per year.

For information, call 209-2899 or visit www.