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U.S. Pediatricians to Congress: Reform Chemical Policy Now

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

By Leeann Brown and Lisa Frack

U.S. pediatricians are putting their considerable muscle behind the calls for Congress to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a failed federal law that has exposed millions of children, beginning in the womb, to an untold number of toxic chemicals.


In its statement, Chemical-Management Policy: Prioritizing Children's Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act be "substantially revised," as it has "been ineffective in protecting children, pregnant women, and the general population from hazardous chemicals in the marketplace." Environmental Working Group would agree.

EWG President Ken Cook welcomed the pediatricians into this important effort to protect children's health:

"When the nation's pediatricians sound the alarm, it's time for everyone to act. These are the doctors who see and treat more and more children with autism, ADHD, cancer and other health problems that are on the rise in the U.S. and are associated with exposures to toxic chemicals.


It is my hope that all members of Congress take the AAP's call for reform seriously and think about the children they represent when it's time to vote."


Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) took the charge to reform the outdated law once again, and recently introduced the federal Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. Lautenberg's legislation would establish a protective standard by which chemicals' safety would be determined.

It would go a long way to eliminating spurious claims of confidential business information, which currently allow health and safety information of common chemicals to be withheld from the public, medical professionals and even within the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA would set priorities among more than 84,000 chemicals in the agency's inventory, insuring the most problematic and hazardous chemicals are acted upon first.

Dr. Harvey Karp, a nationally renowned pediatrician and EWG board member sums it up well:

"People are innocent until proven guilty, but toxic chemicals should not be. The chemical industry must take the necessary steps to ensure its products are safe for human health before enter commerce and work their way into our children's vulnerable bodies."


Hear, hear. It's past time to reform TSCA. We're glad the to have this esteemed group of pediatricians on board to make it a reality.