A coalition of 200 environmental and public health groups were to rally outside the GlobalChem conference in Baltimore today, with a message for the chemical industry representatives meeting there: Support reform of U.S. chemical regulation.
The law that guides chemical usage in the U.S. is the Toxic Substances Control Act (known as TSCA, pronounced "Tosca"), which health and environmental advocates say is outdated and weak. Exhibit A: Of the 62,000 chemicals on the market at the time the law passed in 1976, the Environmental Protection Agency has only required testing on about 200; and it has only regulated five.
The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition is supporting a bill to be introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). The American Chemistry Council endorsed reform of the law in 2009, but the vision of reform endorsed by the chemical industry is quite different from the view of advocates, as you might expect:
Advocates believe chemicals should be regulated like pesticides and drugs: They should be proved safe before being allowed into commerce.
The industry believes only priority chemicals defined by the EPA should be tested and considered for tighter regulation
Advocates believe chemicals the EPA has already defined as likely hazardous should be regulated now.
The industry believes detailed new risk assessments should precede any regulation.
Advocates believe chemicals should be studied in ways that assess the cumulative effect of exposure to multiple chemicals simultaneously.
The industry believes the health effects of only some chemicals should be studied, each in isolation and without reference to cumulative exposure.
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