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Chemicals Law Overhaul Proposed in House

WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders today introduced in the House the first
comprehensive overhaul in more than 30 years of a federal law that has
been widely condemned for failing to protect Americans against the risks
of toxic chemicals.

The legislation filed by Reps. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Henry
Waxman (D-Calif.) to reform the Ford-era federal Toxic Substances
Control Act (TSCA) would fundamentally change the process by which
chemicals – current and future – are cleared for use.

The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act (H.R. 5820) would make a number of
significant changes in the current approach to chemical regulation,
including:

• Establishing a framework to ensure that all chemicals to which the
American people are exposed are reviewed for safety and restricted where
necessary to protect public health and the environment.

• Requiring the chemical industry to develop and provide to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) essential safety data, and
improving EPA’s authority to compel safety testing where necessary.

• Ensuring that non-confidential information about chemicals
submitted to EPA is readily available to the public and that critical
confidential information is shared among regulators, state officials and
workers in the industry.

• Establishing an expedited process enabling EPA to reduce exposure
to chemicals that are known to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.

• Promoting research to advance understanding of children’s vulnerability to the harms of chemicals.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) has documented through two landmark
reports that chemical contamination among people begins in the womb
where the developing fetus is, largely due to the failed federal law,
exposed to hundreds of industrial pollutants.

“Not as much as a speed bump dots the current regulatory path that
toxic chemicals travel to get on the market, in products and ultimately
into people.” said EWG president Ken Cook. “The House plan, along with
legislation introduced earlier this year in the Senate, will finally
bring some order to the free-wheeling, ‘wild west’ approach industry has
enjoyed for more than 30 years, sending thousands of chemicals through
the EPA’s toothless review program faster than a bullet through a
barrel.”

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced his proposal for reform,
titled the Safe Chemicals Act, in April. The House and Senate bills are
similar in their approach to overhauling TSCA and both place the burden
on industry to prove that a chemical is safe before it can be used.

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