The Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals:

A Platform for Creating a Safe and
Healthy Environment through Innovation

Why Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky, USA is home to the area known as “Rubbertown,” which has eleven industrial facilities releasing millions of pounds per year of toxic air emissions — one-third of all reported toxic releases in Kentucky. The surrounding community is 60% African American. In May 2004, Louisville hosted a meeting of a network of groups and individuals whose common goal is to work together on chemical policies and campaigns to protect human health and the environment from exposures to unnecessary harmful chemicals. Participants named the Charter after this city to honor it and all the communities across the country and around the world committed to ending toxic chemical contamination.

Some Practical Applications of the Louisville Charter & Background Papers
You are encouraged to use the charter for safer chemicals. Here you will find some practical applications of the Charter.  While these are just a few applications of the Louisville Charter it shows how broadly the document can be applied and the great need for broad input contribution from environmental justice and health groups, as well as organizations focusing of public access and worker protection, to make real these and other goals, such as adoption of national chemical policy that protects us all.

Legislative Policy Application
Several states including but not limited to California, Maine, New York, and Washington, have been running substantive chemical issue campaigns as a way to achieve phase outs of those chemicals. Chemical focuses include dioxin, PVC, arsenic, mercury, and brominated flame retardants, among others. Several states have a goal to achieve wholesale chemical policy reform (not chemical by chemical bans but bans of whole chemical classes). The Louisville Charter could become the basis of policy re-making at the state level. Likewise, local groups can advocate that metro environmental boards with oversight of various agencies adhere to the fundamental principles of the Charter in all their activities. Ultimately, with support by state, municipal and local groups and governments, as well as progressive businesses, a national chemical policy reform effort around the principles of the Charter for Safer Chemicals could be launched. [Back to top]

Market Initiatives
There are several market campaigns (focused on users of chemicals) that are in a position to advocate that their allies/targets adopt a wholesale chemical policy, like that outlined in the Charter for Safer Chemicals, because they have already agreed to phase out certain chemicals in their product lines. These include campaigns on the auto industry, the cosmetics industry, the computer industry, the electronics industry, the health care sector and others. By using the principles of the Charter for Safer Chemicals businesses can take the business lead on instituting just chemical policies that restrict the demand for, use and disposal of products containing unnecessary chemical toxics. Campaigns at the legislative and production levels benefit from adoption of the Charter for Safer Chemicals among major business purchasers and users.

Corporate Engagement
The growth of Clean Production in the manufacturing sector is a keen example of progress towards safer chemical innovation. The Charter for Safer Chemicals could be a common set of principles that manufacturers adopt about which chemicals they use and release and how they interact with workers and the public, particularly their immediate neighbors. Key principles of the Charter have already had great success in certain states. For example, in Massachusetts, the Toxic Use Reduction Act requires that companies (over 550 of them in the state) assess their toxic use reduction options, which include material substitution and product reformulation (key tenets in the Charter). Within the past 10 years these companies have reduced their use of toxic chemicals by 40%, by-product waste by 58% and toxic emissions by 80%. A cost benefit analysis shows the same companies saved $14 million over the same period. [Back to top]