Updating Our Chemical Laws After 36 Years

Jul 29, 2012 by


Lisa P. Jackson

EPA Administrator

In 1976, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act — or TSCA — to protect our health from the increasing number of chemicals in our products and our environment. In the four decades since its passage, many laws have changed to better protect our safety, yet TSCA has

In fact, despite calls from industry, policy makers, health and environmental groups, the EPA and others, TSCA has not been updated in 36 years. While EPA has worked to raise awareness about green chemistry alternatives and address threats from chemicals of concern, we need a law that keeps up with today’s needs.

Yesterday, we heard some good news on that front. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted to approve the Safe Chemicals Act, which updates many of the key provisions of TSCA. The bill provides manufacturers with more certainty than the current, inconsistent patchwork of state laws. It also includes necessary steps to ensure EPA is in a position to safeguard Americans from the health risks posed by new or existing man-made chemicals.

While the committee vote fell along party lines, it is our hope to see, as the bill moves ahead, strong bipartisan support for keeping our kids and families safe from chemicals. Updating TSCA to ensure our health has brought together thousands of Americans, from industry to parents groups to environmentalists, in a call for action. Congress has an opportunity now to answer that call, and forge a broad coalition that will make our country — and especially our children — healthier and safer.

This is a positive step. We have a lot of work to do to modernize our chemical safety laws — which means there is no better time to start than now.

I do not support this legislation, because I do not believe that the EPA will have any chance to administer it as current framed. I do support the intent of the legislation. However, there is broad concenceus, even among TSCA critics, that the provisions under the current law for evaluating new chemicals is working. So why do we need to add costly beaurocracy? For example, the current standared of “reasonable certainty of no harm” from aggregate exposure for all chemicals seems very difficult to meet. This could effectively preven the introduction of green (bio-based) chemicals. Is this really what you intend? The EPA has not been able to vet bio-diesel producers who sell fake renewable energy credits. Why should we believe that the EPA can administer yet another complex regulation?
21 hours ago ( 8:36 PM)

Keep these out of your house!
1. Coal-tar driveway sealant.
If you plan to seal your blacktop driveway this spring, avoid coal-tar based sealants. They contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which studies suggest can be carcinogenic, toxic, and mutagenic
2. Synthetic pesticides.
Chemical weed and bug killers both fit under this category and should be avoided both inside and outside of your house. herbicides to various forms of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; insecticides have been connected to brain damage in kids.
3. Antibacterial soap.
The antimicrobial chemical triclosan in antibacterial soaps is believed to disrupt thyroid function and hormone levels in people; when it mixes into wastewater, it can cause sex changes in aquatic life. overuse of this and other antibacterial chemicals is promoting the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibacterial treatment.
4. Synthetic fragrances.
Fragrances . Used in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies and disinfectants, air fresheners, deodorizers, shampoos, hair sprays, gels, lotions, sunscreens, soaps, perfumes, powders, and scented candles, fragrances are a class of chemicals that may take you extra time and effort to avoid. But it’s worth it.
5. Harsh cleaning products.
Ammonia can trigger asthmatic attacks, and harsh oven cleaners and drain openers can cause terrible damage to children who come into contact with them. “Every year we have these dreadful third-degree burns of the throat and esophagus because kids got into cleaners under the sink,” Landrigan says.

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