Coalition Calls for Changes in U.S. Chemical Safety Law

A broad coalition of health and environmental organizations unveiled on Aug. 4 a set of key requirements for reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The coalition, called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, includes state and national environmental groups, associations of health professionals, advocates for health-affected individuals and environmental justice organizations.

"Our organizations representing more than 4 million Americans have come together to demand fundamental changes in the system our country uses to ensure that the tens of thousands of chemicals produced and used every day are safe," said Andy Igrejas, director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition.

"The 33-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act is badly broken," said Richard Denison, Ph.D., senior scientist with Environmental Defense Fund. "By failing to identify, let alone address, the long and growing list of chemicals in everyday products that we now know can harm people and the environment, TSCA has forced states, businesses, workers and consumers to try to act on their own to address what should be a national priority."

The U.S. Congress is beginning to consider changes to TSCA, with amending legislation expected to be introduced this fall. "Emerging science increasingly links exposure to toxic chemicals to the rising incidence of serious and chronic health problems among Americans," said Rebecca Clouse, R.N., Environmental Health liaison for the American Nurses Association. "Adoption of our platform for reform would transform TSCA into a law that prevents toxic chemical exposures before they occur."

Key elements of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families platform include:

  • Immediately initiate action on chemicals we already know are extremely dangerous.
  • Persistent, bioaccumulative toxicants (PBTs) to which people could be exposed should be phased out. Exposure to other toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde, that have already been extensively studied, should be reduced to the maximum extent feasible.
  • Require basic information to identify additional chemicals of concern.
  • Chemical manufacturers should be held responsible for the safety of their products and should be required to provide full information on the health and environmental hazards associated with their chemicals. The public, workers, and businesses should have full access to this information.
  • Protect all people and vulnerable groups, using the best science.
  • Chemicals should meet a standard of safety for all people, including children, pregnant women, and workers. The extra burden of toxic chemical exposure on people of color, low-income and indigenous communities must be reduced. The development and use of information gleaned from biomonitoring should be expanded.
The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families platform is available at www.SaferChemicals.org.

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