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Real Reform Needed on Chemicals in US Commerce

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Current legislation that sounds like it might improve America’s outdated chemical safety rules or Toxic Substances Control Act, would in fact, according to critics, turn back the clock and make it harder for either the federal government or individual states to protect their citizens.  Debating the details in Washington recently were policy and health experts as well as business leaders.

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Dow Chemical’s Connie DeFord testified, “An ideal chemical safety program would ensure that chemicals are safe for their intended uses and would do so in a timely manner and with a minimum of additional resources. Such an ideal program would position the USA as a leader in chemical management, bringing safer products to market faster, and therefore enhance the competitiveness of US companies.”

The debate often centers on the meaning of safety and how risk factors are determined, including whether our society is  being cautious enough about risks to unborn babies and young children.  It also involves giving real power to the Environmental Protection Agency to do its job.

Barry Cik testified to Congress on behalf of the American Sustainable Business Council, urging a focus on health and safety, even when big profits are at stake. “The EPA needs to be permitted to follow the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Pediatrics which call for focusing on the toxic effects of chemicals and of assessing the risks of chemicals “in aggregate” – adding up the different exposures. This is particularly of concern with vulnerable populations like children, pregnant women, and the elderly. The federal government also needs the authority to restrict imported products containing restricted chemicals. And, the federal government should not block the right of states to protect air, water or soil or for consumer product warning and labeling programs or any other state chemical safety oversight. The federal government can work with business to make the transition to safer chemicals and products a priority for this nation. This is good for business. ”

Cik is a professional engineer who co-founded the Naturepedic organic mattress company.  His and a growing number of prominent businesses are focused on health, wellness, and transparency about what’s in their products.  The ASBC has created the Companies for Safer Chemicals coalition that promote a sustainable economy.

Testimony by Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai clarified what’s at stake with America’s chemical safety policy.  “Strong chemical safety legislation that mandates the safety testing of new chemicals before they come to market as well as safety testing of existing chemicals will improve the health of America’s children. It will reduce the prevalence of such dread diseases as autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, certain congenital malformations and childhood cancer. It will reduce health care costs. It will make the United States of America more economically productive. It will pay for itself many times over.”

Here’s a look at how many of America’s public health leaders are opposed to this current legislation because of its lack of protections for babies and families.

Here’s a summary of why the legislation does not work, by the executive for the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition.

You can see all of the testimony for yourself at this link.

 

 

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2 Responses to Real Reform Needed on Chemicals in US Commerce

  1. Alesia-SCHF March 18, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Hopefully our legislators will heed the advice of these experts. The facts are right in front of them and yet it seems like they’d rather listen to the chemical industry. They need to listen to these experts and protect public health. This isn’t about politics.

  2. Lindsay March 18, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Anne, thanks for shedding some light on last week’s hearing. When I was watching I was surprised at how little of the conversation was about protecting public health from toxic chemicals, which should be our ultimate goal. It’s shocking that Congress has turned south on reform proposals, but with enough public attention to it, I’m hoping they will re-focus on what’s at the heart of TSCA reform: our health.
    Lindsay recently posted…Toxic chemicals are in your consumer productsMy Profile

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