Federal Chemical Protections in Need of Major Overhaul, NRDC's Beinecke says

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

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

Federal Chemical Protections in Need of Major Overhaul, NRDC's Beinecke says

Congress Should Act Now To Prevent Cancers, Infertility, and Learning Disabilities

WASHINGTON - Congress is long overdue to update the federal law that protects
Americans from exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products, Natural
Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke told a Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee panel today.

When Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act
(TSCA) in 1976,  it allowed 62,000 chemicals to continue to be used
without determining their safety or testing for their effects on health
or the environment. In the 35 years since, the Environmental Protection
Agency has required testing of fewer than 300 of these chemicals, and
has regulated only five. Meanwhile, for most of the 22,000 new chemicals
introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or
no information to the EPA regarding those chemicals' potential health or
environmental impacts.

"It was a mistake 35 years ago when TSCA grandfathered in all
of the chemicals then in commerce," Beinecke told the Subcommittee on
Superfund, Toxics, and Environmental Health today.  "Two generations
later, we find ourselves with hundreds of chemicals in our bodies and
rates of cancer, developmental and learning disabilities, reproductive
problems, birth defects and other disorders on the rise."

High rates of diseases, including prostate and breast
cancers, childhood cancers, asthma, Parkinson's disease, infertility,
and learning and developmental disabilities cannot be solely attributed
to genetic factors or improved surveillance and detection. Exposure to a
multitude of untested chemicals is likely a contributing factor,
according to NRDC.

"There are legitimate reasons for public concern that ongoing
exposure to a mix of chemicals can play a part in the rise of certain
illnesses," said Beinecke, herself a breast cancer survivor. "Some
chemicals we know can cause cancer, disrupt hormones or are toxic to our
nervous system. Others, frankly, we know very little about."

"We now face a tall order: We need to determine which
chemicals that are used in commerce are safe, and we need to break free
of the legal restrictions and red tape that have prevented EPA from
quickly reducing exposure to those that have strong evidence of harm and
widespread exposure. States will continue to act in the face of
inaction at the national level, while public trust in the safety of
numerous products will continue to decline.  That prospect should be
enough to keep everyone at the table until a deal can be reached."

For more information, visit www.takeouttoxics.org

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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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