Growing up in Acton, Massachusetts (home of one of the W.R. Grace-created toxic sites on the Superfund cleanup list), I’ve long been aware of the problem of cancer-causing chemicals in our water and soil. In my time in the Legislature, filing and passing bills to keep these toxic chemicals out of our environment has been one of my top priorities.
I’m particularly pleased to note, then, that two top-priority environmental bills – An Act Relative to Information Technology Producer Responsibility and An Act for a Competitive Economy Through Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals — received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on the Environment & Natural Resources a few weeks ago. Receiving a favorable committee report is the first big step in the legislative process, and it’s good news that both bills were reported out in the first year of the two-year legislative session.
An Act Relative to Information Technology Producer Responsibility, commonly referred to as the E-waste Bill, is based in part on a bill I filed earlier this session, An Act to Require Producer Responsibility for Collection, Reuse and Recycling of Discarded Electronic Products. The bill requires producers of electronic waste, such as computers, televisions and printers, to be financially responsible for the proper disposal of their products.
E-waste makes up the fastest growing portion of trash collected by cities and towns in the Commonwealth, with Massachusetts residents discarding over 8 million pounds of e-waste in 2006. These products contain significant amounts of toxic substances, including lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, which are both harmful to the environment and cause various health problems, including brain damage and kidney problems. Currently, when disposed of, these products often go into landfills, where toxic chemicals can leach into our water and soil, or are exported to developing countries, contributing to high levels of pollution and serious health risks.
Sixteen other states and New York City already have similar legislation in place to regulate the disposal of electronic waste. I believe passing this legislation will both boost recycling industry in Massachusetts and help to ensure that Massachusetts does not contribute to the pollution problems of other countries.
An Act for a Competitive Economy through Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals, known as the Safer Alternatives Bill, is a bill I’ve proudly cosponsored for several sessions now. This bill will create a pragmatic and flexible program in Massachusetts to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives wherever feasible.
There is growing evidence that the use of toxic chemicals contributes to the development of chronic diseases and disorders, including asthma, birth defects, cancers, developmental disabilities, diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, and others. Reducing our reliance on toxic chemicals will help us protect our health. This legislation will help protect our health by establishing a unique program to promote non-toxic alternatives to chemicals currently in use.
Passing these two bills would make a big difference in the fight to keep toxic chemicals out of our soil and drinking water, and I’ll continue working to see them brought to the floor of the Senate and passed into law this year.