Most U.S. Voters Want Products Free of Harmful Chemicals: Poll

TUESDAY, Oct. 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Do the majority of Americans want government to make sure the products they buy are free of harmful chemicals?

Yes, a new survey shows, and they are even willing to pay more to get that assurance of safety.

“At a time when most issues are politically polarized, the issue of keeping people safe from harmful chemicals finds widespread agreement among Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, which conducted the poll. The Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), commissioned the survey.

More than 90% of those polled wanted the U.S. government to require products to be screened for harmful chemicals and proven safe before market approval. The survey, conducted between May 25 and June 5, gathered 1,200 responses from registered American voters.

The survey found:

  • 92% of voters agreed, and 63% of voters strongly agreed, that the U.S. government should make companies prove that their products are safe before selling them.
  • 93% of voters agreed, and 62% strongly agreed, that companies should do a better job of getting rid of harmful chemicals from consumer products.
  • 88% of voters agreed that companies should do a better job of taking plastics out of consumer products and reducing their use of plastic packaging.
  • 76% of the Americans who took the survey said they were worried about how chemicals and plastics contribute to climate change.
  • 54% of those polled said that chemical regulations are not strong enough, while 21% said they are about right and 10% said they are too strong.
  • The Toxic Substances Control Act makes it easier to limit or ban harmful chemicals to better protect vulnerable people like pregnant women, children and people who live near factories that are polluting the surrounding area: 89% of voters supported the act, and 56% of them strongly supported it.
  • 93% of voters agreed, and 57% strongly agreed, that it is important to get rid of harmful chemicals where people live, work and go to school, even if it makes some products more expensive. A similar number agreed that it is important for companies to keep harmful chemicals out of everyday products, even if it increases the cost of the products.
  • Voters were worried about all of the chemicals asked about in the survey, but they were most concerned about chemicals that they ate, drank or breathed in. Still, they did not know how the system for regulating chemicals works.
  • About half of people (49%) said that the chemicals in food and consumer goods have been tested to make sure they are safe, which is not true.

“People assume that what they buy is safe, and that almost always isn’t the case,” said Tracey Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences who directs the PRHE at UCSF. “The good news is this survey reveals overwhelming support for the government to do a better job of protecting people from harmful chemicals.”

More information

The Environmental Working Group has more about chemicals in consumer products.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, Oct. 11, 2022