EWG To Congress: Overhaul Nation’s Lax Chemical Laws
WASHINGTON – In a welcome first step toward fundamental reforms to the way toxic chemicals are reviewed and then used in consumer products, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held its first oversight hearing this Congress looking into the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the nation’s outdated, industry-friendly law that allows virtually any chemical to be used in commerce without first testing for safety.
In recent years, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and public health advocates have repeatedly found that Americans' bodies are polluted with hundreds of industrial chemicals. Tests by the Environmental Working Group of umbilical cord blood found an average of 200 industrial chemicals in babies at the moment of birth. No one knows if these exposures are safe because the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has not been updated since its passage 30 years ago, does not require chemical companies to prove the safety of chemicals before they are used.
“For the last 30 years tens of thousands of toxic chemicals have been used in everything from baby bottles to infant formula, never having been tested for safety,” said EWG Executive Director Richard Wiles. “Now we find that every single person, including those not yet born has been polluted with mixtures of toxic chemicals. The only way to reduce the levels of toxic chemicals in the environment and our bodies is to mandate that industry test chemicals and prove they are safe before their use as ingredients in products that people most vulnerable to their harmful effects use everyday.”
Legislation is set to be introduced in both the Senate and House that would close the gaps that leave the public at risk from industrial chemicals. The Kid Safe Chemicals Act (KSCA) would put the burden of proof on the chemical industry to document the safety of their products before they go into consumer products. The new law would set a bright-line standard requiring affirmative proof that chemicals are safe for infants and children, focusing on chemicals found in our bodies.
“Today’s hearing and the pending introduction of the Kid Safe Chemicals Act send a strong signal that Congress is placing the public’s health front and center as it considers fundamental overhaul of the nation’s toxics laws, and we applaud them for their leadership,” added Wiles.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.