Environmental Protection

Lawmakers Tackle Endocrine Disruptors in New Bill

U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, along with Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and the Environment, on May 5 introduced the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Enhancement Act (H.R. 5210), legislation to update the original Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program established in 1996.

“From chemicals used in everyday consumer products to rocket fuel, there are many potentially dangerous substances that find their way into our drinking water supply,” said Markey. “But with this bill, we will drastically beef up our capacity to quickly screen chemicals to determine their effects on human health. This bill will mandate the screening of chemicals found in our drinking water, and update the testing requirements to create a more transparent program that relies on the most up-to-date science. We must do absolutely everything we can to keep our drinking water safe.”

When it was first established, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program was required to test all pesticides that may come into contact with food for their ability to interfere with the body’s hormonal system. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never exercised its discretionary authority to test non-pesticide chemicals that may be found in sources of drinking water.

The new bill directs EPA to establish a program that tests chemicals found in drinking water to determine whether they are endocrine disruptors and if so, to determine the extent of their ability to interfere with the body’s hormonal system.

EPA also must develop a plan and schedule for identifying and testing substances found in drinking water, ensuring that at least 100 chemicals found in drinking water are tested within four years. This plan, as well as data and other information related to the testing program must be made publicly available on a searchable database.

The addition the agency must:

  • engage in a public process to specify the manner in which it will develop, require and evaluate tests;
  • review the current state of science every three years to determine if significant technological advancements warrant revision of testing procedures;
  • accelerate testing of suspected endocrine disruptors.
  • determine whether regulation of a substance that has been found to be an endocrine disruptor is warranted. Any action that EPA takes should be shared with other federal agencies with regulatory jurisdiction over products that contain the substance.

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