Thursday, May 05, 2011

Time to Modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976


High-profile media coverage of specific chemicals, like bisphenol A in infant bottles and can liners, creates anxiety about food regulation, but the problems of risky chemical exposure is much greater with non-food consumer goods. Chemicals added to food and from food contact materials are regulated as food additives under a relatively stringent review process under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

On the other hand, non-food chemicals are regulated under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), which is widely recognized as ineffective in protecting us from hazardous chemicals in the marketplace. In three decades of existence, TSCA has been used to regulate only five chemicals or chemical classes out of the thousands of chemicals that are in commerce. Under TSCA, chemical companies have no responsibility to perform premarket testing or postmarket follow-up of the products that they produce; in fact, TSCA creates disincentives for the companies to produce such data. Voluntary programs have been inadequate in resolving problems.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced new legislation to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) and protect Americans from exposure to dangerous toxins. The law would for the first time require that chemical manufacturers demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals used in everyday household products.  Senator Lautenberg launched a video on his Facebook and Twitter pages to build support for chemical safety reform and his "Safe Chemicals Act of 2011."  Watch it here.

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