A Public Health Imperative: No Forever Chemicals, No Lead Pipes

By Peter Aronson

As the New York League of Conservation Voters chronicles its top priorities for 2024, this week we are focusing on the importance of removing and banning toxic chemicals from all consumer products, particularly products for children.

It’s good timing because February 6 is designated as the day to lobby against the use of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFAS), aka “forever chemicals.”

A May 2023 study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found carcinogenic and toxic chemicals in virtually every consumer product commonly used in homes and on our bodies. The New York Times reported on the study, which concluded that chemicals known to cause a wide range of health problems, from asthma, endocrine disruption, reproductive and child development harm to cancer, were found in home cleaners, degreasers, sanitizers, detergents, cosmetics, shampoos and other hair products, hand and body lotions, soaps, nail products and oral care products, among others. 

“Indeed, chemical exposures from use of consumer products are often higher than environmentally mediated, far-field exposures,” the report stated.

With that as the backdrop, it’s clear why we are prioritizing and urging the New York State Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul to enact legislation to require the disclosure of toxic chemicals used in all consumer products, especially products used by children.

Take Action Here on PFAS

“We can see pollution in the air and we can feel the earth warming with our hotter-than-normal seasons, but we can’t see the chemicals in the products we use everyday,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe. “It’s been a known ugly truth for far too long. It’s time to put a stop to it.”

NYLCV is urging state leaders to ban toxic chemicals, including all PFAS substances in certain consumer products, especially cookware, building materials, waterproof materials and menstrual care products.

We are also urging state leaders to pass legislation that will improve the regulation of chemicals in personal care products to better assess their impact on public health and the environment, especially for disproportionately impacted groups, such as women of color.

In addition, we urge the state to focus on motivating all-natural, green initiatives and product development by offering increased financial rewards to companies. The current green procurement program must be extended and mandated for public and private schools in the state.

In conjunction with all the goals set forth above, we have to make sure that we keep our drinking water safe for all New Yorkers. In December, we were pleased that Gov. Hochul signed the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act, which will require the state to disclose and make available to the public the location of all lead pipes in the state. According to the EPA, there are approximately 500,000 lead service lines in New York, among the top six states in the country.

To further this clean-up effort, we are urging New York to adopt a statewide lead service line removal timeframe of no later than 10 years from now. 

In addition, we urge Gov. Hochul to not only reverse a funding cut she announced in her FY2025 budget for clean water infrastructure grants—amounting to $250 million per year for two years—but to increase funding to $600 million per year.

The Lead Pipe Right to Know Act is less meaningful and less productive if there are not enough statewide funds to remove and replace the tainted pipes.

We urge Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature to focus on banning dangerous chemicals from all our consumer products and to provide enough funding to clean up the statewide lead pipe problem. New Yorkers deserve nothing less. Both problems have persisted for way too long.  

To read more about the NYLCV’s 2024 priorities, please see our annual agenda here

Take Action Here on PFAS

02.02.24 // AUTHOR: admin //