Safe Chemicals Act Headed to Senate Floor

This item originally appeared in: Public News Service


Deb Courson

 HELENA, Mont. - Chemicals would have to pass a new kind of litmus test under a bill headed for the U.S. Senate floor.

The Safe Chemicals Act, Senate Bill 847, made it out of committee Wednesday, with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., securing provisions dealing with asbestos and encouraging growth in the green-chemical technology sector - two topics of interest to the state.

Jason Kiely, vice president for marketing at Rivertop Renewables in Missoula, a company that develops non-toxic products, explains.

"Consumers are increasingly demanding that the products that touch our children, that we use in our homes, that we're exposed to in the workplace, are safe - both for human health and the environment."

The Safe Chemicals Act would require manufacturers to demonstrate that chemicals are safe - whether they're in cleaning products, beauty products or durable goods.

Concerns about the bill have focused on the cost to companies to do the testing and develop non-toxic alternatives.

The bill was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on a party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.

James Steele Jr., a board member at Montana Conservation Voters and former chairman of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes, says Native Americans have an interest in the bill because formaldehyde-tainted Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers showed up on reservations.

"Particularly on the reservation, we want to make sure that our homes and mobile homes and any homes that we receive from FEMA are in a non-toxic condition."