The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

EWG Public Affairs, (202) 667-6982

EWG's Ken Cook Testifies on House Proposal to Reform Federal Chemicals Law


Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook testified today that reform
legislation now before Congress "is essential to fixing our broken toxic
chemicals policy."

"All of us are united by an inescapable and profoundly disturbing
reality: toxic chemical pollution begins in the womb," Cook told the
House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade
and Consumer Protection. "As modern science has demonstrated, we must
reform federal law ensure that new chemicals are safe for kids, our
most vulnerable population, before they are allowed to go on the

Cook referred to the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, H.R. 5820, introduced
last week by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bobby Rush

The bill, Cook said, "would squarely place the burden of proof on
industry to show that its products are safe for public health and
vulnerable populations."

Cook and EWG have long advocated that any serious reform of the Toxic
Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) must force industry to prove a
chemical is safe before it is allowed into commerce.

Cook urged the panel to amend the bill to give top priority for
regulation to chemicals found in umbilical cord blood of newborns.

"Detection of a chemical in umbilical cord blood does not prove that it
will cause harm," Cook said. "As researchers have mapped more and more
of what we have dubbed the 'human toxome,' however, scientists, public
health experts and policymakers have embraced biomonitoring as the
logical foundation for regulation of industrial chemicals....EWG's nearly
one million supporters, the vast majority of whom are parents, and the
more than 111,000 citizens who signed our Kid Safe Chemicals petition
will be disappointed that H.R.5820 will not ensure that the government
has determined what industrial toxic chemicals pollute babies in the
womb, or that the government will not ensure the safety of chemicals
that are 'pre-polluting' babies."
Cook spoke in favor of several other key elements, including the bill's
"hot spot" provisions to aid so-called fenceline communities who face a
disproportionate exposure to industrial pollutants.

Cook also praised the bill's plan to close secrecy loopholes exploited
by the chemical industry to shield identities and safety tests of
chemicals used in commercial goods. EWG's own investigation found that
industry has claimed "confidential business information" exemptions for
the identities of 13,596 chemicals introduced since 1976.

A copy of Cook's entire statement as submitted for the record can be found at EWG's website.

The Environmental Working Group is a community 30 million strong, working to protect our environmental health by changing industry standards.

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