Making Toxic Chemicals Personal

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hear testimony on the recently introduced Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 tomorrow from various stakeholders. Among them are Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Senior Scientist Richard Denison and Boron Specialties Managing Director Beth D. Bosley, who is scheduled to speak on behalf of the Society of Chemical Manufacturing Affiliates.

Using social media and now paid advertisements in Politico and >i>Roll Call, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition (of which EDF is a founding member) has put the debate into people's homes. The awareness level is much greater now than it was 34 years ago when lawmakers sought to control toxic substances. These days, people are their own physicians and they know (or at least think they know) that chemicals have caused a lot of health problems − just take a look at the membership roll of the coalition.

I wish there was a way to convey important information without pushing emotional buttons (can you say "manipulation"?).

Denison seems skilled in getting to the point and making the information accessible. He has a created a simple table in his blog post showing how flaws in the Toxic Substances Control Act will be corrected by TCSA.

SOCMA, which was involved in stakeholder meetings as the bill was being developed, is on record as saying that the new bill is flawed because it does not define use in the context of safety determinations made on a per-use basis. This bill, SOCMA President and CEO Lawrence Sloan said, will discourage development of new chemicals and new uses.

Maybe that's the point, but surely such a measure will not fly. The chemical industry that has produced toxic chemicals also has created pharmaceuticals that have enabled many people to overcome diseases or at least live more comfortably.


Image courtesy of The History of Retrorunning,

The funniest thing I found in all of this is that the coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council are sponsoring a "Race for the Cause." Participants will jog backward toward the cause instead of racing to the cure. It will make an interesting video clip on the afternoon news.(By the way, running backwards reportedly enhances longevity.)

(How did EPA manage to get cabinet-level status while the CDC and OSHA did not?)

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Jul 28, 2010