Voters want more protection from harmful chemicals: poll

Most American voters say they want more government and industry protection from toxic chemicals, a new poll has found.

Not only do the 1,200 respondents to the survey overwhelmingly want assurances that consumer products are free from harmful chemicals, but they are also willing to pay more for the privilege.

In the poll — commissioned by the University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment — 92 percent of voters agreed that the government should require products to be proven safe before reaching the market, while 63 percent strongly agreed.

“People assume that what they buy is safe and that almost always isn’t the case,” Tracey Woodruff, director of the UCSF Reproductive Health program and a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, said in a statement.

“The good news is this survey reveals overwhelming support for the government to do a better job of protecting people from harmful chemicals,” Woodruff added.

Similar to the responses regarding government responsibility, about 93 percent of voters surveyed agreed — and 62 percent strongly agreed — that companies should do a better job of removing harmful chemicals from consumer products, according to the poll.

About 88 percent agreed that companies should do a better job eliminating plastic and plastic packaging from these items, the survey found.

The Washington, D.C.-based public opinion firm Lake Research Partners conducted the poll for UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment — reaching 1,200 voters nationwide from May 25 through June 5.

Respondents included 800 base voters and “oversamples” of 100 Black voters, 100 Latinx voters, 100 Asian-American Pacific Islander voters and 100 Gen Z voters, in order to ensure that the results were representative of the broader population, according to the poll.

“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,” Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, said in a statement.

About 76 percent of respondents expressed concern about the impact chemicals and plastics have on climate change, while 54 percent said that chemical regulations are not strong enough.

Some 89 percent of voters surveyed expressed support for harnessing the Toxic Substances Control Act to make it easier to ban or limit harmful chemicals, according to the poll. Meanwhile, 56 percent conveyed strong support for such action.

The implementation of these limits, the survey said, would aim to better protect vulnerable populations like pregnant women, children and those who reside near polluting factories.

Asked whether it is important to remove harmful chemicals from the areas in which people live, work and learn, 93 percent of respondents agreed and 57 percent strongly agreed — even if doing so would raise the costs of some products. 

The Hill has reached out to the American Chemistry Council — a trade group that represents major U.S. chemicals companies — for comment.