Is it possible to appoint a team of investigative newspaper reporters to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration?
Whoever wins the presidential election should look to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for staff.
These reporters have been doing the work you expect from your government: Discovering what products and chemicals are harmful, and exposing the health risks so people can make informed choices.
The newspapers's latest revelation: The EPA has allowed chemical manufacturers to ignore for 10 years a law requiring them to provide safety data on chemicals that are used in high volumes. These are chemicals used in volumes of 1 million pounds or more every year.
As a result, there's no information about 278 so-called orphan chemicals because the manufacturers simply don't report any information to the EPA. Information on another 2,500-plus chemicals is limited to whatever chemical manufacturers choose to reveal. While many companies might be 100% responsible, there is no shortage of examples from environmental history to suggest companies making a profit on a chemical will ignore, downplay or bury information linking that chemical to health problems.
Environmentalists have long pointed out that Europe's "precautionary principle" is a better strategy for consumers. It requires that chemicals be proven safe before they are introduced into commerce, whereas in the U.S., problems with chemicals often turn up only after they've been used widely for years.
To read the Journal-Sentinel's ongoing expose of the problems of chemical regulation in the United States, see Chemical Fallout: A Watchdog Report.
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