Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Toothless chemical law is toxic to the public's health

Toxic Chemicals
The American Academy of Pediatrics' recent statement urging the federal government to do more to protect pregnant women and children from toxic chemicals is getting lots of attention in the media. The more meaningful question is whether the safety push will get the attention it deserves from Uncle Sam.

The pediatric group's request is hardly outrageous. It asks that Congress make the archaic Toxic Substances Control Act live up to its original mission and protect Americans from potentially poisonous substances in our products.

As it stands now, the act is a joke. It hasn't been revised in any meaningful way since first passing congressional muster in 1976. Since then, tens of thousands of chemicals have been introduced into the environment through new products, and we know little to nothing about whether they are making us sick.

Read More
The act is our best chance of finding out, and making the manufacturing industry accountable, but that would require adding some teeth to a law this is mostly gums.

Out of about 80,000 chemicals being used by a host of manufacturers, the law has led to regulation on just five chemicals or chemical classes during the past 35 years. Some argue that the Toxic Substances Control Act is such a weakling that it couldn't even be used to ban cancer-causing asbestos.

Under the act, manufacturers are not required to test whether chemicals are safe before putting them in the products we use. That's a scary proposition given the increasing number of studies raising concerns about the behavioral, developmental and other health risks that may be associated with some chemicals, such as the ubiquitous bisphenol-A, or BPA, and phthalates found in many plastics.

The federal government isn't ignorant of these concerns. In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that, because of the potential human health impacts of BPA, it would study ways to reduce exposure to the compound in food packaging. Two months later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added BPA to its list of "chemicals of concern" and announced a "BPA action plan" that included requiring manufacturers to provide test data to help determine the potential impacts of BPA.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Content

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...