Chemical Policy (TSCA)
There is widespread agreement that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the principle federal statute governing the use and safety of the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to in our everyday lives, is broken and needs to be reformed.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been given responsibility but little authority to enforce TSCA. Enacted in 1976, this current law was broken from the start, grandfathering thousands of chemicals already on the market. This law is so broken and so weak that the EPA could not even ban asbestos, a cancer-causing substance that is still in use and killing thousands of Americans each year.
To date, the EPA has only reviewed a few hundred chemicals for safety. There are nearly 85,000 chemicals currently approved for use that the federal government and consumers know little to nothing about.
We need real toxic chemical reform that ensures protection of public health, especially to our vulnerable populations, and the environment from the hazards these chemicals pose.
From a press release issued on Labor Day by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER): "WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bush administration has declared itself immune from whistleblower protections for federal workers under the Clean Water Act, according to legal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result of an opinion issued by a unit within the Office of the Attorney General, federal workers will have little protection from official retaliation for reporting water pollution enforcement breakdowns, manipulations of science or cleanup failures."Read More
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Food and Drug Administration is bargaining with the pharmaceutical industry for an increase in fees used for reviewing new drug applications-- a move experts say will give the industry a greater role in shaping the priorities of its regulator. "There is no doubt that user fees give the industry leverage on setting the agency's priorities, because of the negotiating process," says Dr. Kessler, former head of the FDA, and now dean of the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco.Read More
New legislation in New York State requires schools to use greener cleaning products. The new regulations, backed by the state School Boards Association and the largest NY teachers union, aim to protect children from the risks of chronic low-level exposure to toxic chemicals. Both public and private elementary and secondary schools are required to comply by limiting the purchase of new products to those on the official NY state list of green cleaners.Read More
Tomato giant Ag-Mart couldn't be in bigger trouble in North Carolina for alleged pesticide violations that may have caused birth defects in three field workers' children, but the state ag department says it's powerless to ensure that the company shapes up.Read More
EWG commends the professional staff and leadership at EPA for forging a stewardship agreement with major companies that will, if properly implemented, dramatically reduce, and eventually eliminate, pollution associated with the chemical known as PFOA, and related chemicals that break down to become PFOA and similar substances. These toxic chemicals pose numerous health risks, are extraordinarily persistent in the environment, and have already found their way into the blood of people worldwide, including most Americans.Read More
Maybe President Bush still had a New Year's hangover when he signed this particular appropriations bill into law on January 3rd. The bill funding the Health and Human Services Agency contained a tiny rider (compliments of Sen. Durbin of Ill.) that means agencies like the FDA, NIH, and CDC may actually get back to using science to protect public health.Read More
The University of Montana has put out its annual Kids Count report for 2005, addressing child mortality, uninsurance rates, economic status and, for the first time, health care costs from environmental pollutants. Montana spends an estimated $400 million annually for kids with lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, birth defects and other disorders.Read More
Residents near DuPont's W.Va. Washington Works plant, where the Teflon chemical PFOA is produced, are speaking out against a landfill where the company dumped the toxic chemical.Read More
An FDA panel is examining possible health concerns associated with antibacterial soaps, wipes and other household products. The market is booming for these germ-killers, but home use might be creating strains resistant to both antibacterials and antibiotics. This is of particular concern to families with children, as it presents the double-edged sword of exposing children to surviving super-germs, or, on the other hand, overprotecting them in a squeaky-clean environment that prevents them from building immunity, which can lead to asthma or allergies later in life.Read More
Using a line straight from the chemical industry's playbook, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have established the nation's first state biomonitoring program last weekend.Read More
Ag-Mart Produce, the giant Florida tomato grower, is eliminating the use of some pesticides linked to birth defects following a lawsuit involving three seriously deformed babies born to field workers.Read More
The Washington State Toxics Coalition and the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition have started body burden testing on 10 people in the Puget Sound area, looking for pesticides, heavy metals, PCBs, fire retardants, phthalates and other toxics in their subjects' bodies.Read More
Wal-Mart's 153 California stores are in danger of an audit from the state Department of Pesticide Regulation for selling home and lawn pesticides not approved for use in the state.Read More
More and more groups are examining the Senate asbestos bill called FAIR and finding it doesn’t keep its promises – to anyone. Environmental Working Group’s research has shown that the Senate’s answer to the asbestos epidemic is inadequate for the millions who will suffer from exposure to this toxic mineral.Read More
Toxic PCBs have been found at 140 times the level that requires cleanup at a South Seattle site that EPA declared clean more than five years ago. Fish in the nearby Duwamish River are the most PCB-laden in the state, and high levels have been found in salmon and killer whales in the Puget Sound.Read More
A report the GAO released last week faults EPA for not enforcing laws that prevent companies from ducking environmental cleanup costs by filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.Read More