Although industry, doctors, and virtually all of us have known for a long time that there are many products on the market that contain toxic chemicals harmful to our health, little has been done to change this by our local, state, and national governments. That is until now. A bill was recently introduced into the U.S. Senate (with a similar one in the House of Representatives) that will help protect us against harmful chemicals in products.
In April, Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010, a bill that will change the way that chemicals are tested and how products are manufactured and “fix” what Sen. Lautenberg believes to be our “broken” system for determining chemical and product safety. The bill intends to shift the burden of proof to corporations. If passed, manufacturers will have to provide the EPA with a minimum data set for each product they make – proving its safety. The EPA will then be able to question manufacturers, test chemicals, and possibly require changes where the most dangerous chemicals are concerned. At this time the EPA can only require testing of chemicals once they have evidence that a chemical is dangerous. Sen. Lautenberg believes that “those who make the chemicals …ought to be responsible for testing them first before they’re released to the public, instead of having the EPA play detective to search and try to find problems.”
The legislation, which is being supported both by social and health groups like the Safer Chemicals Health Families coalition and members of the chemical industry – comes from the realization that the Toxic Substance Control Act (TCSA) failed to protect the health and safety of Americans adequately. Since it was passed 34 years ago, the TSCA has only required testing of 200 chemicals and restricted the use of 5 – this is of the 80,000 chemicals being used in consumer products today!
If passed, this bill has the power to offer consumers real safety when they are purchasing products for themselves, their families, and their homes because they will know that the chemicals in the products they are using will have been reviewed by the EPA. Although this bill won’t fix all of our chemical problems, it is the biggest step in the right direction we’ve ever seen congress take when it comes to toxic chemicals. This oversight is, in our view, a clear demonstration by congress that they are finally putting our health first.
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