Maybe Third Time’s the Charm for Toxic Toys?

>>BY JENNIFER BRICK

How hard is it to do the right thing, especially when it comes to our children? Sometimes, if politics are involved, it is incredibly difficult.

Take this >>new bill that is before the NC General Assembly: it would restrict the use of BPA, phthalates, and certain chemical flame retardants in children’s products like toys, car seats, and toiletries. This sounds great and makes me happy, but it turns out that this is the third try for legislation like this. Similar bills were attempted in 2012 and 2013, but didn’t make it past the committee process. Those bills tried to bar the manufacturing and selling of children’s products containing these chemicals whereas this bill would only limit the chemicals in each one.

I applaud republican Senator Bingham for sponsoring this bill who said because it is a >>“‘common sense’ piece of legislation to improve children’s health… he was willing to compromise over its final shape” and for braving the “firestorm” that he said may accompany it, but it is nonsense that there needs to be a storm at all. Even more ridiculous, the storm isn’t about whether the chemicals actually harm our children, but because “nobody wants to be the first to do anything, especially if it relates to industry and jobs.”

And, no, we don’t want to take away jobs, but I can’t see how change like this would. Plastic bottles, car seats, teethers, et al would still have to be made; hopefully, they would be produced with better materials — though the bill doesn’t require this.

In the opening verse of country singer Bucky Covington’s hit “A Different World,” he croons: “We were born to mothers who smoked and drank / Our cribs were covered in lead based paint / No childproof lids, no seat belts in cars / Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are, still here we are.” This line of reasoning infuriates me (yes, I know I shouldn’t take country music so literally). It is the way of the world to want better for the next generation, to sacrifice and scrimp, and plan, so that our children will be healthier, more successful citizens. I haven’t had a Bloody Mary in eight months and I researched cribs to find one that wouldn’t off-put chemicals into my future baby’s lungs! Sure, I probably could have imbibed a little and any crib is probably fine, but when you know better, you should do better.

Right now there are more and more products on the market that are touting that they are BPA  and phthalate free. It is obviously something that consumers are demanding and a trend that is growing. If North Carolina senators know better and are trying to do better, I’d love to see our state be a leader in positive change by requiring what the consumer wants, with or without compromise.

>>Cropped Jennifer BrickJennifer Brick is a writer and teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.




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