Harmful toxin used in baby clothes should be banned, advocates say | Society
An advocacy and research organisation, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is hoping to educate the public about the toxin antimony, push manufacturers to stop using it and ensure that the federal government adheres to its oversight responsibilities.
Antimony is a naturally forming element and metalloid that is found predominantly as sulfide mineral stibnite and has been used by humans for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used it in cosmetics.
It is also a known carcinogen, chronic exposure to which has been reported to result in lung damage, skin irritation and stomach problems, and has been linked to reproductive issues.
Despite this, it continues to be used as a flame retardant in textiles and plastics, and is found in baby bibs, children’s shoes, clothes, toys and games.
The Environmental Protection Agency does not classify antimony as a carcinogen, although in a recent statement on antimony it said: “Respiratory effects, such as inflammation of the lungs, chronic bronchitis and chronic emphysema, are the primary effects noted from chronic (long-term) exposure to antimony in humans via inhalation.
“Human studies are inconclusive regarding antimony exposure and cancer, while animal studies have reported lung tumors in rats exposed to antimony trioxide via inhalation.”
The EWG’s government affairs director, Christine Hill, said the EPA had not been given enough authority to take action. She said the federal Toxic Substances Control Act was “so broken and so weak that [the] EPA could not even ban asbestos, a cancer-causing substance that is still in use today and killing thousands of Americans each year”.
Of more than 80,000 chemicals currently used in consumer products, the federal government and consumers know relatively little. The EWG believes it is time to push the government to deliver.
“We need a strong federal program that provides EPA with the adequate resources that ensures chemicals are safe, quickly reviews the most dangerous chemicals, sets tough deadlines and preserves the role for the states,” said Hill.
Two states, Washington and Vermont, have enacted legislation that requires companies and manufacturers to disclose certain known toxins, including antimony, in the products it puts on the market. Maine has something similar.
“Some flammability standards that encouraged the use of fire retardant chemicals have been questioned in terms of their effectiveness in increasing fire safety and have been redesigned,” Stoiber said.
MBDC is the leading consulting firm helping companies design products and services for the Circular Economy using Cradle to Cradle® design principles and practice. Proactive product assessments by MBDC can provide unique insight into potential ingredients risks, provide early warning of possible problematic materials and recommend alternatives.
Contact MBDC: http://old.mbdc.com/contact/ for details of how Cradle to Cradle design can reduce risks, save costs and provide powerful marekting stories for your products and services in the emerging circular economy. Cradle to Cradle® is a trademark of MBDC, LLC.