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.
In lab testing, one chemical, we’ll call it “chemical X,” was linked to decreased fertility and changes in the lungs, spleen, stomach, intestines and vagina; and in some cases even death. What chemicals caused these alarming effects? What products are they used in? We don’t know. We may never know.
Code names for untested chemicals, secret production amounts reported by unnamed companies, discharges of undisclosed amounts of pollutants – these occurrences are not the fantastical inventions of some Dr. Seuss book. These are realities currently allowed under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, commonly referred to as TSCA, which became law in 1976.Read More
Most people think that manufacturers must prove chemicals safe before they put them on the market. They’re wrong.
You might think you can’t put a price on protecting public health and the environment. But you’d be wrong — especially if we’re talking about the nation's broken and outdated chemicals law, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.Read More
When Jon Whelan first smelled a strange odor coming from his daughter's brand-new pajamas, he wanted to find out what caused it. He had no idea that this seemingly simple question would lead him on a quest through corporate boardrooms, the halls of Congress, and back alleys, eventually to discover that companies are not required to disclose whether their products contain potentially toxic chemicals.Read More
It’s the time of year for pretty Easter dresses, and for many kids, the frillier and shinier, the better. Parents, however, should beware of dresses packaged with metal jewelry.Read More
The American Chemistry Council, along with chemical giants Dow, DuPont, BASF, 3M, Honeywell and Koch Industries, spent more than $55 million last year to lobby lawmakers – bringing their four-year total to just over $245 million, according to updated data from the Center for Responsive Politics and lobbying disclosure forms filed with Congress.
As the New York Times reported today, federal lawmakers may be about to give Monsanto a multi billion-dollar break. H.R. 2576, The TSCA Modernization Act, is a bill designed to update our nation’s badly broken chemical laws. However, a short provision quietly added at the last minute might give Monsanto a way out of liability from decades-old pollution. While the change was so subtle many lawmakers probably did not even notice it, the implications are significant enough that maybe it should be called the “Monsanto bailout clause.”Read More
In the coming months, congressional negotiators will try to reconcile two bills aimed at fixing the nation's broken and outdated chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act. As we’ve made lear time, time and time again, neither bill will fix what ails TSCA – a law so broken that the Environmental Protection Agency has only been able to regulate five chemicals since 1976.
Consumers rightly expect that the chemicals used in everyday products are safe. Under current law, however, few are ever reviewed for safety.
If Frank Lautenberg, Jim Jeffords, Barbara Boxer and Henry Waxman had summoned support for this version of toxic chemical reform 10 years ago, only the chemical industry would have rallied to their call. No wonder the parties most excited about the toxic chemicals “reform” bill the Senate passed yesterday are the very companies it purports to regulate and their closest allies in Congress, most notably Sen. David Vitter (R-La). In a sense, the chemical industry should be celebrating – this legislation originated with its lobbyists.
The most egregious flaw of the United States’ toothless and outdated system of regulating chemicals is the failure to adequately and independently test chemicals for safety. Because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s woeful shortage of resources, manufacturers submit their own data to vouch for new chemicals, and most studies of existing chemicals are conducted by for-profit consultants selected and paid by the very companies whose products they’re evaluating.
Conventional thinking about cancer prevention may overlook growing evidence that the combined effects of chemicals that are not carcinogenic on their own may be a significant cause of cancer, according to a new EWG analysis of a series of papers published last week in the scientific journal Carcinogenesis.Read More
The bill passed by the House of Representatives today to update the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 falls short of what’s necessary to ensure that everyday chemicals are safe, EWG said.
With all of the chemicals that get put into consumer products, it can be difficult to protect our children from toxic hazards. Knowing what to look for and what kids’ products contain harmful chemicals is the first step.