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EWG’s Ken Cook Testifies On House Proposal to Reform Federal Chemicals Law

(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, July 29, 2010

Washington, D.C. –Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook testified today that reform legislation now before Congress “is essential to fixing our broken toxic chemicals policy.”

“All of us are united by an inescapable and profoundly disturbing reality: toxic chemical pollution begins in the womb,” Cook told the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. “As modern science has demonstrated, we must reform federal law …to ensure that new chemicals are safe for kids, our most vulnerable population, before they are allowed to go on the market.”

Cook referred to the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, H.R. 5820, introduced last week by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill).


The bill, Cook said, “would squarely place the burden of proof on industry to show that its products are safe for public health and vulnerable populations.”


Cook and EWG have long advocated that any serious reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) must force industry to prove a chemical is safe before it is allowed into commerce.


Cook urged the panel to amend the bill to give top priority for regulation to chemicals found in umbilical cord blood of newborns.

“Detection of a chemical in umbilical cord blood does not prove that it will cause harm,” Cook said. “As researchers have mapped more and more of what we have dubbed the ‘human toxome,’ however, scientists, public health experts and policymakers have embraced biomonitoring as the logical foundation for regulation of industrial chemicals….EWG’s nearly one million supporters, the vast majority of whom are parents, and the more than 111,000 citizens who signed our Kid Safe Chemicals petition will be disappointed that H.R.5820 will not ensure that the government has determined what industrial toxic chemicals pollute babies in the womb, or that the government will not ensure the safety of chemicals that are ‘pre-polluting’ babies.”

Cook spoke in favor of several other key elements, including the bill's "hot spot" provisions to aid so-called fenceline communities who face a disproportionate exposure to industrial pollutants.

Cook also praised the bill’s plan to close secrecy loopholes exploited by the chemical industry to shield identities and safety tests of chemicals used in commercial goods. EWG’s own investigation found that industry has claimed “confidential business information” exemptions for the identities of 13,596 chemicals introduced since 1976.


A copy of Cook's entire statement as submitted for the record can be found at EWG’s website.

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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.