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April 16, 2010

“Safe Chemicals Act of 2010”

Joined by Congressmen Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced new legislation that would overhaul 1976 polyester era Toxic Substances Control Act.

"This is a complex issue, and we compliment Senator Lautenberg and Congressmen [Henry] Waxman and [Bobby] Rush for bringing focus to the need for modernization of the TSCA," said Cal Cooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, in a statement.

“Green groups would say that's an understatement. The TSCA grandfathered in more than 60,000 industrial chemicals that were already in use in 1976, with no safety testing, including chemicals like bisphenol-A, the endocrine disruptor that more recent studies have shown could have a serious impact on developmental health. New chemicals went straight to the marketplace with little government oversight — in the 34 years since the TSCA was enacted, the EPA has required testing for only 200 chemicals out of the more than 80,000 available for use in the U.S., and has regulated only five”, reports Time  Read more.

Press Release of Senator Lautenberg

Lautenberg Introduces "Safe Chemicals Act" to Protect Americans from Toxic Chemicals

Measure Will Require Safety Testing for Chemicals

Contact: Lautenberg Press Office (202) 224-3224
Thursday, April 15, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today announced legislation to overhaul the “Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976” (TSCA), an antiquated law that in its current state, leaves Americans at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals. Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2010” to protect the health of families and the environment.
“America’s system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken,” said Senator Lautenberg. “Parents are afraid because hundreds of untested chemicals are found in their children’s bodies. EPA does not have the tools to act on dangerous chemicals and the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws so that their customers are assured their products are safe. My 'Safe Chemicals Act' will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals. Chemical safety reform is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is a common-sense issue and I look forward to building bipartisan support for this measure.”
The “Safe Chemicals Act of 2010” requires safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order stay on the market. Under current policy, the EPA can only call for safety testing after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances. The new legislation will give EPA more power to regulate the use of dangerous chemicals and require manufacturers to submit information proving the safety of every chemical in production and any new chemical seeking to enter the market.
Over the last several months, Sen. Lautenberg has chaired a series of hearings to help craft the “Safe Chemicals Act” with dozens of witnesses including business leaders, public officials, scientists, doctors, academics, and non-profit organizations. Through the hearings, public health groups, environmentalists, industry representatives and the EPA have expressed support for reforms to our nation’s toxic substance laws. The “Safe Chemicals Act of 2010” comports with the reform principles laid out by the Obama Administration, the American Chemistry Council and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition.
The text of the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" can be found here and a full summary of the bill can be found here.

Highlights of the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2010”

Provides EPA with sufficient information to judge a chemical’s safety. Requires manufacturers to develop and submit a minimum data set for each chemical they produce, while also preventing duplicative or unnecessary testing. EPA will have full authority to request additional information needed to determine the safety of a chemical.
Prioritizes chemicals based on risk. Calls on the EPA to categorize chemicals based on risk, and focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm.
Ensures safety threshold is met for all chemicals on the market. Places the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to prove the safety of their chemicals. All uses must be identified and determined safe for the chemical to enter the market or continue to be used.
Takes fast action to address highest risk chemicals. Requires EPA to take fast action to reduce risk from chemicals that have already been proven dangerous. In addition, the EPA Administrator is given authority to act quickly if any chemical poses an imminent hazard.
Creates open access to reliable chemical information. Establishes a public database to catalog the information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA’s safety determinations. The EPA will impose requirements to ensure the information collected is reliable.
Promotes innovation and development of green chemistry. Establishes grant programs and research centers to foster the development of safe chemical alternatives, and brings some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.

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Posted by Blogmistress on April 16, 2010 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Regulatory Issues, Safety/Toxicity | Permalink


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I also recently discovered TEDX The Endocrine Disruption Index,
which may also be of interest to our readers. Headed up by Dr. Theo Colborn, TEDX is a nonprofit dedicated to compiling scientific information regarding health and environmental problems caused by low-dose chemicals as endocrine disruptors. They have a strong focus on the various chemicals used in the process of "frac'ing" to obtain natural gas. After the lengthy rebuttal of the NEJM paper linking Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils to Gynecomastia in pre-pubescent boys here on Aromaconnection and other entities connected to the essential oil industry, it struck me that the presenting pediatricians practiced in Colorado, where much of the controversy about chemicals used to extract natural gas being linked to endocrine disruption originates. We will continue to connect the dots.

Posted by: Marcia | Apr 16, 2010 3:18:18 PM

Making industrial chemicals safer is something we can all get behind. However, if we want safer chemicals and a safer environment then we must use nonanimal methods of testing.

From what I've read on www.reformtoxicitytesting.org/ many toxicity tests are based on experiments in animals and use methods that were developed as long ago as the 1930’s; they and are slow, inaccurate, open to uncertainty and manipulation, and do not adequately protect human health. These tests take anywhere from months to years, and tens of thousands to millions of dollars to perform. More importantly, the current testing paradigm has a poor record in predicting effects in humans and an even poorer record in leading to actual regulation of dangerous chemicals.

The blueprint for the development and implementation of nonanimal testing is the National Academy of Sciences report, "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy in 2007." This report calls for a shift away from the use of animals in toxicity testing. The report also concludes that human cell- and computer-based approaches are the best way to protect human health because they allow us to understand more quickly and accurately the varied effects that chemicals can have on different groups of people. They are also more affordable and more humane.

These methods are ideal for assessing the real world scenarios such as mixtures of chemicals, which have proven problematic using animal-based test methods. And, they're the only way we can assess all chemicals on the market.

Posted by: Rihana | Apr 19, 2010 12:58:34 PM

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