Toxic Chemicals reform bill passed by Senate Committee

On July 25, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847) sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). This was the first official action by a Congressional Committee to address the problem of chemical exposures in 36 years since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently has limited authority to fully protect the public from toxic chemicals, many of which are linked to developmental problems, neurological deficits, cancer, and impaired fertility. The previous day, on July 24, the full Committee and the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health held a joint hearing entitled, “Oversight of EPA Authorities and Actions to Control Exposures to Toxic Chemicals.” Visit the EPW website to view the webcast. The Arc supports the Safe Chemicals Act. Learn more at Safer Chemicals, Healthier Communities, a diverse coalition of organizations of which The Arc is a member.

Senators call for reform of the toxic chemicals law

On July 9, a bipartisan group of 26 Senators sent a letter calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize its rulemaking regarding a class of toxic flame retardant chemicals.   Flame retardants are toxic chemicals suspected to cause developmental problems, neurological deficits, cancer, and impaired fertility. The letter also acknowledges that the EPA has limited authority to fully protect the public from these toxic chemicals under the current Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and calls for reforms to the law to adequately protect American families from dangerous chemicals.   Under the TSCA of 1976, the burden is on the EPA to prove chemicals are dangerous, rather than on companies to prove they are safe. The law requires manufacturers to submit safety data only if they have it. Most don’t, resulting in the EPA knowing little, if anything, about the safety of most of the 84,000 industrial compounds in use in the U.S.   The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would reform the law by requiring chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals and EPA to evaluate safety based on the best available science. The Arc supports the Safe Chemicals Act. Learn more at Safer Chemicals, Healthier Communities, a diverse coalition of organizations of which The Arc is a member.

Senate holds hearing on the Safe Chemicals Act

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and its Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health Subcommittee held a hearing on S. 847, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). This bill would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 by requiring chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate safety based on the best available science. Currently, TSCA greatly limits the EPA’s ability to require safety testing or regulate a chemical. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for only about 200 chemicals out of more than 80,000 in its inventory. The Arc supports the Safe Chemical Act which would help to reduce exposures to chemicals that are increasingly being linked to cancer, birth defects, learning and behavioral problems, infertility, asthma, and nervous system disorders. Visit the Environment and Public Works committee website for written statements and an archived webcast of the hearing. Learn more at Safer Chemicals, Healthier Communities, a diverse coalition of organizations of which The Arc is a member.