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Ten Retailers Urged To Pull Potentially Toxic Products

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 Health and environmental groups will launch a national campaign Thursday to prod 10 major retailers - including Walmart, Target and Costco - to clear store shelves of products containing hazardous chemicals.

Advocates say these companies have done some "retail regulation" but argue more needs to be done and the U.S. government isn't stepping up. They list 100-plus chemicals used in hundreds, possibly thousands, of products including wrinkle-free clothes, vinyl flooring, shampoos, sofa cushions and food packaging.

"We've seen the power of retailers to change the marketplace," says Andy Igrejas of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition advocating against toxic chemical use. He notes that many stores pre-empted a 2012 federal biphenol-A (BPA) ban by no longer selling baby products containing the hormone-disrupting chemical. "But the bites so far are too small for the scale of the problem," he says.

His group and nearly four dozen others, including the Breast Cancer Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists, are sending a letter Wednesday to 10 retailers asking them to develop a plan within a year to phase out use of the chemicals. The companies include Kroger, Walgreens, Home Depot, CVS Caremark, Lowe's, Best Buy and Safeway.

Some have already acted. In 2007, Target and the parent company of Sears and Kmart announced plans to join Walmart in phasing out polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from products. In 2011, Walmart said it would stop using a controversial flame retardant. Kroger, which phased BPA out of cash register receipts in 2011, said in 2012 that its Simple Truth products would be free of 101 chemicals and ingredients. Lowe's and Home Depot have stopped selling driveway sealants that contain coal tar, which has suspected carcinogenic chemicals.

As of Tuesday evening, the 10 retailers had not seen the campaign's letter. Walmart, Target and Kroger, asked to comment on their prior efforts and the challenges in expanding them, declined interview requests. 


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