Chemical Reform Bill Creates Long Overdue Changes for Public Protection

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Suzanne Struglinski, NRDC, 202-289-2387, sstruglinski@nrdc.org

Chemical Reform Bill Creates Long Overdue Changes for Public Protection

Legislation Expands Right to Know About Chemicals Potential Health Effects, Requires Industry to Prove Chemicals are Safe

WASHINGTON - Chemical companies will have to disclose more information about the
chemicals they produce, including the environmental and health effects,
and will be required to prove that their chemicals are safe to remain on
the market, based on legislation introduced in the House and Senate
today.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.), introduced the Safe
Chemicals Act in the Senate, and Rep.  Bobby Rush, (D-Ill.) and Rep.
Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.), introduced the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of
2010,  "discussion draft" of chemical protection reform legislation in
the House.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the
Environmental Protection Agency has only required testing of about 200
of the 62,000 chemicals on the market when the law was enacted in 1976,
and has partially regulated only five. The bills make changes to the law
to regulate not only the chemical that existed then but the 22,000
chemicals that have been added to the market during the last 34 years.

The existing chemical control law has failed to protect the
public from exposure to unsafe and untested chemicals and today's
legislation is a much-anticipated step toward creating a healthier
environment, according to experts at the Natural Resources Defense
Council.

The bills expand the public's right to know about the health
and safety effects of most chemicals, require chemicals to meet a safety
standard that protects children and other particularly vulnerable
populations, and put the burden on the chemical industry to prove that
its products are safe. The legislation also requires EPA to develop
action plans to reduce unsafe chemicals in communities
disproportionately exposed to toxic pollution.

The following is a statement from Daniel Rosenberg, Senior
Attorney in NRDC's Health and Environment Program:

"Changing the existing law would make a significant
difference in peoples' lives by reducing daily exposure to toxic
chemicals.

"These bills provide an excellent starting place to
strengthen EPA's authority to protect the public. If this legislation
fulfills its promise, we can hope to see a decline in cancer, learning
and developmental disabilities, infertility and other disease associated
with exposure to these chemicals. Reducing such health problems will
improve and lengthen lives as well as reduce the costs of healthcare.

"Many people assume the protections these bills create
already exist, but they don't and they are long overdue. Both bills will
need some strengthening to ensure that the promise of meaningful reform
is fulfilled and we will work with lawmakers to make that happen."

As the legislation moves forward in the House and Senate,
NRDC will work to ensure that under the revised law EPA:

  • will incorporate recent recommendations by the National
    Academy of Sciences into its  evaluation of the safety of chemicals;
  • will take fast action to phase out or reduce the use of
    the worst toxic chemicals, including those that persist in the
    environment and that build up in the food chain and in our bodies;
  • will not allow new chemicals into the market -- or into
    homes -- before they have been determined to be safe.

Click here
to find more information about the need for chemical protection reform.
For more detail on the two bills, read Daniel's blog: Toward
a Non-Toxic Earth Day
.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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