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EWG’s Cook Scores Industry-Backed Chemicals Bill

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Washington, D.C.  – – Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today that toxic chemicals “are polluting people’s bodies – our blood, our fatty tissue and even breast milk.”

“Many of these toxic chemical exposures come from ordinary consumer products we all use,” Cook said, “such as flame retardant coatings on sofa upholstery, nursing pillows, car seats, children’s tents and nap mats, chemical components of nonstick cookware and stain repellents and chemicals used to make clear plastic water bottles.”

Cook urged the committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to overhaul current federal law, the Toxic Substances Control Act.  But he said the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, a proposal backed by the chemical industry and introduced last May, has met overwhelming opposition  from the environmental and public health communities and state officials.  

“The Chemical Safety Improvement Act will not fix the problem,” Cook said.  “It would preserve some of the worst features of the Toxic Substances Control Act.  And yet it would prevent states from enacting their own, more protective, regulations and would prevent individuals from seeking remedies through the legal system. Americans would wind up with less government vigilance over hazards posed by toxic chemicals.”

“Most Americans trust that their air, soil and water are safe from toxins,” said Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and a mesothelioma widow, who joined Cook as a witness at today’s hearing.  “However, the Toxic Substances Control Act has failed to protect public health and our environment….Americans need and deserve legislation to prevent toxic exposures, but the Chemical Safety Improvement Act would be worse than the current law.”

“The Chemical Safety Improvement Act lacks the key reforms considered critical to improving federal toxics regulation and protecting people from dangerous industrial chemicals,” Cook said. “We recognize that bipartisan support is essential to securing passage of a chemical safety reform bill, but meaningful bipartisan compromise on what would be the first major federal environmental law in 16 years cannot become a reality without the solid support of environmental and public health communities.”  

Cook’s written testimony submitted for the record can be found here: