The topic of human exposures to chemical contaminants and the need to overhaul the federal government’s approach to toxics regulation was again on the mind of the nation’s top environmental official in remarks she made last weekend in Philadelphia.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has now delivered three speeches in less than two months calling for reform of the failed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), each time singling out kids’ health as her driving force. That’s three more than the last two administrators combined, according to my quick dig:
…both EPA and industry must include special consideration for exposures and effects on groups with higher vulnerabilities – particularly children. As you know, children ingest chemicals at a higher ratio to their body weight than adults. They are more susceptible to long-term damage and developmental problems.
Jackson also cited EWG’s landmark cord blood study from 2005, which identified over 200 chemical pollutants in the blood of newborns. It was the first study of its kind in the U.S.:
The Environmental Working Group has provided some startling research showing that our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food. Now, we know some chemicals may be risk-free at the levels we are seeing. But as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused.
Administrator Jackson cited her own son’s struggle with asthma as an example of why it is so important to tackle the issue of industrial pollution — in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the consumer products we use every day:
Across the US, almost 1 in every 10 kids has asthma – making this a critical children’s health issue.
One of those children is my 12-year-old son Brian. Brian has fought with asthma his entire life. His first Christmas was spent in the hospital, unable to breathe. All his life we have had to be careful when it gets too hot outside, and the ozone levels rise, or when other environmental triggers are present. My family can’t take for granted that Brian’s going to be able to breathe easy. I still pop up at night when I hear him stirring, and expect to hear the cough.
Along with asthma, other serious health problems linked to chemical contamination are on the rise in this country, including diabetes, childhood brain cancer and attention deficit disorder.
For all those reasons, those of us in the environmental movement who have spent considerable resources and countless hours on research and advocacy fighting for reform of toxics regulation were heartened to learn last week that the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act could soon be introduced in both the House and Senate.