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.
After the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that contractor Sciences International (SI) worked for companies who made chemicals under review by the agency, NIH let the company conduct its own internal investigation into conflicts of interest.Read More
Battery makers and lead smelters have been lobbying the Bush administration to roll back standards that keep lead out of gasoline and their efforts may prove successful for industry, that is. According to a statement released by the EPA earlier this week, the agency is considering dropping the lead limits in light of " the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant.Read More
The American Journal of Industrial Medicine reports this month on undisclosed conflicts of interest in cancer research: Some consulting firms employ university researchers for industry work thereby disguising industry links in the income of large departments. If the industry affiliation is concealed by the scientist, biases from conflicting interests in risk assessments cannot be evaluated and dealt with properly. Furthermore, there is reason to suspect that editors and journal staff may suppress publication of scientific results that are adverse to industry owing to internal conflict of interest between editorial integrity and business needs.Read More
Last month we reported on the outrage of some distinguished Harvard alums over a suspiciously closed-door “investigation” that cleared Harvard professor Chester Douglass of charges that he covered up links—revealed by federally-funded research—between fluoridated water and bone cancer in boys. He's the same Harvard doc who is a paid consultant for Colgate toothpaste, which is clearly pro-fluoride, and who donated $1 million to the university's dental school in 2001.Read More
Ex-FDA chief Lester Crawford pled guilty today to being the latest administration scumbag caught owning shares of companies he regulated. Crawford was forced out last year, after a grand total of two months as Food and Drug Administration Commissioner. (He was acting director for three years before that, because the Senate didn’t want to confirm him.)Read More
In response to the debate National Geographic magazine has recently sparked with its October 2006 article, "The Pollution Within," Environmental Working Group invites journalism students, working journalists and National Geographic in particular to address questions of whether information sources who espouse policy views should be cited in stories.Read More
The nation's system for approving and monitoring the safety of medicines is inadequate and needs far-reaching reforms, and the Food and Drug Administration is plagued with poor management and persistent internal squabbling, according to a long-anticipated study of the agency. The study, requested by the FDA, was carried out by the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit organization created by Congress to advise the federal government on health issues.Read More
The [EPA] is not conducting required reviews to ensure that low-income and minority neighborhoods get the same environmental protection as other communities.Read More
From a press release issued on Labor Day by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER): "WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bush administration has declared itself immune from whistleblower protections for federal workers under the Clean Water Act, according to legal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result of an opinion issued by a unit within the Office of the Attorney General, federal workers will have little protection from official retaliation for reporting water pollution enforcement breakdowns, manipulations of science or cleanup failures."Read More
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Food and Drug Administration is bargaining with the pharmaceutical industry for an increase in fees used for reviewing new drug applications-- a move experts say will give the industry a greater role in shaping the priorities of its regulator. "There is no doubt that user fees give the industry leverage on setting the agency's priorities, because of the negotiating process," says Dr. Kessler, former head of the FDA, and now dean of the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco.Read More
New legislation in New York State requires schools to use greener cleaning products. The new regulations, backed by the state School Boards Association and the largest NY teachers union, aim to protect children from the risks of chronic low-level exposure to toxic chemicals. Both public and private elementary and secondary schools are required to comply by limiting the purchase of new products to those on the official NY state list of green cleaners.Read More
Tomato giant Ag-Mart couldn't be in bigger trouble in North Carolina for alleged pesticide violations that may have caused birth defects in three field workers' children, but the state ag department says it's powerless to ensure that the company shapes up.Read More
EWG commends the professional staff and leadership at EPA for forging a stewardship agreement with major companies that will, if properly implemented, dramatically reduce, and eventually eliminate, pollution associated with the chemical known as PFOA, and related chemicals that break down to become PFOA and similar substances. These toxic chemicals pose numerous health risks, are extraordinarily persistent in the environment, and have already found their way into the blood of people worldwide, including most Americans.Read More
Maybe President Bush still had a New Year's hangover when he signed this particular appropriations bill into law on January 3rd. The bill funding the Health and Human Services Agency contained a tiny rider (compliments of Sen. Durbin of Ill.) that means agencies like the FDA, NIH, and CDC may actually get back to using science to protect public health.Read More