Momentum Builds in Congress to Overhaul U.S. Chemicals Policy
New Bill Introduced July 23 Seeks to Reduce Toxic Chemical Exposure and Ensure Safety
Bethesda, MD (July 23, 2010) -- Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) today introduced a groundbreaking bill to overhaul U.S. chemicals policy in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The “Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010” is intended to overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has failed to regulate chemicals in consumer products – even those that have known links to cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive disorders and other serious health problems. The Autism Society, along with the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, applauds this initiative in hopes it will bring about changes to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and protect all from exposure to environmental toxins.
“The Autism Society has been the leading autism organization exploring the interaction between environmental toxins and autism spectrum disorders,” Autism Society President and CEO Lee Grossman said. “We applaud reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act and hope this legislation will eventually bring about more stringent safety review of chemicals to improve the quality of life for all individuals.”
"Today's legislation will reduce chronic disease in this country, a burden that scientists have increasingly linked to toxic chemicals found in our homes and places of work,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of 250 environmental and public health groups, of which the Autism Society is a founding member. “It will also give American manufacturers and retailers the tools they need to compete in a world demanding safer products. We applaud Chairman Rush and Chairman Waxman for leading the way.”
The House legislation would significantly strengthen public health protections from toxic chemicals. For the first time, the chemical industry would be required to demonstrate that chemicals are safe, rather than the EPA having to prove they are unsafe. In a major shift, the legislation would require chemical manufacturers to provide basic health and safety information for all chemicals as a condition for them remaining on or entering the market and to make that information public.
Other elements of the legislation would require:
- Chemicals to meet a health standard to enter or remain on the market.
- The EPA to identify and restrict the most toxic chemicals that build up in our food chain and in our bodies, such as brominated flame retardants.
- Populations most vulnerable to toxic chemicals, including pregnant women, infants and children, and those living in environmental “hot spots,” to have extra protections from toxic chemicals.
- The EPA to rely on the National Academy of Sciences’ recommendations to incorporate the best and latest science when determining the safety of chemicals.
The bill, introduced in the House, follows a similar bill introduced in the Senate in April by Senator Lautenburg (D-NJ) called the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2010.” For the past three months, Congressmen Rush and Waxman have been meeting with key stakeholders, including industry representatives, health and environmental advocates and the EPA, to come up with a balanced bill.