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EWG Asks EPA Chief To Support Toxics Reform Bill

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2009 ­- Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook today urged Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to support The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act, a proposed reform of U.S. toxic chemical controls to be reintroduced in coming weeks in both the House and Senate.

As was the case in the last Congress, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) is expected to re-introduce the Senate version in the coming weeks, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), who sponsored the House measure last year has indicated it will be re-introduced soon in the House.

“You come to office at an historic moment in environmental health policy,” Cook wrote Jackson. “Americans have utterly lost confidence in the ability of their government to protect them, and their children, from the toxic chemicals they read about daily. And for the first time in a generation, Congress is poised to respond to this strong public concern by replacing the nation’s tattered safety net for industrial toxins with a modern chemical safety law.”

Kid-Safe would require that industrial chemicals be proven safe for children and other vulnerable populations, meeting a “reasonable certainly of no harm” standard already in place for food-use pesticides. This provision would reverse the current law, which places the burden on EPA to prove chemicals are dangerous to humans before regulating them.

The act would prioritize the review of chemicals to which people are exposed, as determined by blood and urine tests and other factors. For the first time, Kid-Safe would authorize EPA to require chemical manufacturers to produce the studies needed for a safety determination and to ban chemicals failing to meet EPA safety standards.

EWG research has found that pollution begins in the womb. EWG laboratory tests have found an average of 200 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborns. This research shows that at the critical time when a child is developing, the umbilical cord is carrying industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides.
“The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act would dramatically increase EPA’s authority and ability to protect children’s health and to achieve the new goals you have enumerated for the agency,” wrote Cook. “We urge you, on behalf of the Obama administration, to endorse the Kid-Safe legislation as soon as possible.”

“As a result of the failed federal toxics program, we now have babies born pre-polluted in this country with a cocktail of over two hundred toxic chemicals already in their bloodstreams – many linked to a number of very serious health problems, including cancer, that are on the rise in the U.S.,” Cook said in a separate statement. “We’re encouraging Administrator Jackson to join Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Waxman in driving reforms that may someday allow babies to arrive free of contamination.”

A PDF of Cook’s letter to Admin. Jackson is attached to this release:

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.

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