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Toxics Bill Still Awaiting Action
Testimony Submitted by Jill Stein on Behalf of MCHC
8 June 2007
Representative Frank I. Smizik and Senator Pamela P. Resor
Chairmen, Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture
State House, Room 473F
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Representative Smizik & Senator Resor,
I am writing on behalf of the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC) to ask you to support H1286/S553, An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts: Safer Alternatives for Toxic Chemicals. We urge you to take this critical opportunity to prevent needless illness and suffering from preventable chemical exposures by supporting the Safer Alternatives Bill, and by reporting the bill favorably out of committee.
I am also writing as a physician and co-author of a public health report, “Toxic Threats to Child Development” published by Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, that has been translated into four languages and taught as a continuing medical education curriculum at medical centers across the US. As documented in this and other reports, developmental disability affects 17% of US children, and is increasingly linked to chemical and other environmental factors. Asthma affects nearly one in eight children in Massachusetts, the highest rate among the 50 states as reported by the Center for Disease Control. Yet these are only two of a variety of chronic illnesses tied to environmental exposures that affect vast numbers of the US population. According to a 2003 study produced at Tufts University, preventable illness linked to toxic chemicals costs Massachusetts residents up to $1.6 billion per year including the costs of medical treatment, special education and lost wages. Clearly the need is urgent to tackle these tragic and costly epidemics with more effective prevention.
The proposed legislation achieves this prevention pragmatically, creating a program to reduce toxic chemicals used in Massachusetts by replacing them with safer alternatives when feasible. It targets the most dangerous chemicals for which safer alternatives are available, and provides technical and financial assistance to help businesses make the transition.
It is time for Massachusetts to be proactive in ensuring the good health of present and future generations. Again, we ask you to grant this proposed legislation a favorable report. On behalf of the hundreds of activists participating in MCHC’s action network, I thank you for your consideration, and look forward to your positive response.
Jill Stein MD
Secretary and co-founder, MCHC