Most of these chemicals have never been tested and we are the victims. Why? Because our federal chemical law (Toxic Substances Control Act [TSCA] of 1976) is toothless.
According to Michael Hawthorne, writing in the Chicago Tribune:
"[TSCA] gives the government little power to assess or limit dangers from industrial chemicals. Citing loopholes in the law, the EPA acknowledges that it knows little, if anything, about the safety of most of the 84,000 industrial compounds in commercial use in the U.S.However, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is trying to change this and he has been the champion of improved oversight for years. Lautenberg's work is starting to pay off, as his Safe Chemicals Act passed the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday.
"Neither regulators nor consumers can tell what specific substances are used in many products, meaning it can take years for independent scientists to identify chemicals, track them in the environment and determine if they cause harm."
Lautenberg has previously described why this issue motivates him:
“The average American has more than 200 industrial chemicals in their body, including dozens linked to cancer and other health problems. The shocking truth is that the current law does not require tests to ensure chemicals used in everyday household products are safe. The EPA does not have the tools to address dangerous substances and even the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws to assure consumers that their products are safe. My 'Safe Chemicals Act' will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to separate the chemicals that help from the chemicals that hurt.”Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like Lautenberg. The committee's vote split cleanly along party lines, so full Congressional approval will be a difficult fight.
Click here to read all of Hawthorne's article about the vote.
Click here to read coverage by Sandy Bauers, the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.