Environmental compliance is organizational adherence to federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. Those laws and regulations can govern everything from a product’s ingredients to production methods to waste management and wastewater treatment and more.
Nearly all products produced in the United States are subject to some form of environmental regulation. Failure to comply with those regulations can result in fines, recalls, lawsuits and more. This is especially true if products are found to contain harmful chemicals or elements including lead and phthalates.
What is Lead?
Lead is an element found naturally in the earth’s crust that can be toxic to humans and animals. Lead and lead compounds have been used in a variety of products from paint to pipes to batteries and cosmetics. Federal and state regulatory standards have helped reduce the amount of lead people are exposed to in drinking water, food, soil, consumer products, etc. However, despite regulations, consumers must still be vigilant, as many products produced overseas can still contain potentially harmful levels of lead.
What are The Negative Health Effects of Lead?
Lead is highly toxic. Children, babies and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because growing bodies absorb lead at a much faster rate than a full-grown adult. Children are also prone to putting their hands and small objects in their mouths, which can be dangerous if those products or if the dust or soil on their hands contain lead.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
- Behavior and learning difficulties
- Decreased IQ
- Slowed growth
- Hearing problems
- In rare cases, seizures, coma and even death
In pregnant women, lead is released from the mother’s bones and can pass from the mother to the fetus in utero or during breastfeeding. Potential impact to the fetus or infant can include:
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Premature birth or low birth weight
- Damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys
- Increased likelihood of behavioral problems
Non-pregnant adults can also experience negative effects from lead exposure, including:
- Increased blood pressure and risk of hypertension
- Decreased kidney function
- Reproductive problems for males and females
Phthalates, sometimes called plasticizers, are chemicals that make plastics flexible and difficult to break. They are used in a host of consumer products including vinyl flooring, garden hoses, packaging materials, children’s toys, adhesives, detergents, plastic clothing and shoes, personal care products, automotive plastics, lubricants and more.
Phthalates are harmful when they are ingested which is why small children are at higher risk of exposure, as they tend to put non-food objects into their mouths. Currently, the CDC warns that exposure to phthalates has been known to impact the reproductive systems of laboratory animals. Other agencies warn they can damage the liver, kidneys and lungs, as well.
Environmental Compliance Standards
There are federal state and local laws governing environmental compliance, but California’s Proposition 65, known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 is one of the most stringent laws in the country. It governs consumer products and consumers’ right-to-know regarding the chemical makeup of the products they buy and requires the state to publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm. Over the last 30 years, that list has evolved to approximately 900 chemicals.
Companies cannot do business or sell their products in California if they do not adhere to Prop 65 standards. Therefore, it has become a guideline for responsible consumer product developers to follow prop 65, regardless of where those products are developed. This not only ensures they can do business in the state, but sends a signal to consumers that environmental compliance is important.
How Do You Know If A Product Is Environmentally Compliant?
When it comes to food and personal care products, labels can outline the ingredients for consumers. However, for other products, it can be impossible to know the item’s chemical makeup. Most people don’t consider items like awards, pins, and uniforms like those issued by employers to be toxic, but depending on where the products were made, they could be out of environmental compliance.
If you are purchasing awards, gifts, pins, or uniform pieces for your company, agency or nonprofit, choose Crest Craft. We understand and value environmental compliance and safety, and every product we offer adheres to Prop 65 standards. To find out more about our products and services or our environmental compliance standards, contact our team today.