Thousands of chemicals found in everyday items have never been fully tested to determine their effects on health. Even in the limited cases in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have evaluated chemicals, they have often relied on outdated, incomplete, or industry-influenced science to approve the use of potentially harmful chemicals, including those linked to cancer and reproductive hazards.
While pushing for an overhaul of chemical policies at the federal level, NRDC helps advance state efforts to get some of the worst offenders off the market. In California, where new state standards have driven national-level reforms, we helped update an antiquated state law to get toxic flame retardants out of furniture and championed successful legislation that requires labels on all upholstered furniture to inform consumers about whether or not the item contains added flame-retardant chemicals. We also surveyed major retailers to help consumers find furniture without added flame-retardant chemicals.
NRDC has also advocated for and supported California’s efforts to add bisphenol A, or BPA, a toxic chemical found in plastics, to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause reproductive harm. And we're pushing for warnings on products that contain BPA as well as stronger measures to ensure that any alternatives used are indeed safer.
Additionally, we are working federally and at the state level to ban the use of pesticides that pose health risks, particularly to children and pregnant women. One of the top-selling pesticides in North America, 2,4-D, has been linked to birth defects, decreased fertility, and improper thyroid function. Yet this World War II–era weed killer—classified as a possible human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, or WHO—is still on the market. In fact, its popularity will likely explode as farmers use it on new forms of genetically modified corn and soybeans, including those resistant to Enlist Duo—a new product that combines 2,4-D with glyphosate, the most commonly used pesticide in the United States. Glyphosate has also been declared a probable human carcinogen by the WHO and may contribute to kidney and liver dysfunction.