WASHINGTON — A Massachusetts proposal to require all consumer products to be labeled for carcinogens and other toxins, similar to California's Proposition 65, has picked up some momentum.
The measure, the ``Citizens Right to Know Act,'' passed a key legislative committee last month, and some industry observers are predicting it will be a hot issue in legislative sessions beginning in January.
Supporters say the proposal is needed to warn the public about the dangers of cancer-causing and other toxic synthetic chemicals in products. They also argue California's effort has resulted in some companies redesigning products to find safer alternatives, such as eliminating lead-soldered cans or toxic chemicals from products such as correction fluid, spot remover and waterproofing spray.
But opponents — including the plastics industry — say the bill would not weigh the risk to chemicals based on exposure levels, would flood consumers with so many warnings they become meaningless, and is not needed because state agencies already can remove hazardous products.
The bill would put new burdens on companies without improving public health, said Michael DeVito, executive director of the Massachusetts Chemical Technology Alliance in Boston.
The bill would not pose any immediate threat to the plastics industry, but could prove troublesome because it has a provision that allows the public and the attorney general to sue firms for not complying with the law, no matter what the level of exposure to the chemical is, said Stephen Rosario.
Rosario is director of government affairs for the Northeast region for the joint state unit of the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the American Plastics Council.
Industry observers in Massachusetts say the bill picked up momentum when it passed the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture in October with support from both co-chairs of the committee, although they cautioned that it still could face some legislative hurdles.
One of the committee's co-chairs, Sen. Lois Pines, D-Norfolk, also is running for state attorney general, which could elevate the issue's profile, said Robert Ruddock, vice president of energy and environmental programs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a business advocacy group in Boston.