Monday, April 29, 2013

Take a Stand

I've written before (primarily in the posts entitled Who Regulates the Products We Use and Trying to Get a Product Off the Market) about the surprising lack of testing and regulation of the chemicals that fill our lives. A recent editorial in The New York Times, entitled A Toothless Law on Common Chemicals addresses the issue.  The author makes the following points:

  • The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is supposed to ensure the safety of chemicals used in manufacturing and household products. The author notes that "it would be hard to design a law more stacked against the regulators."

  • Manufacturers do not need to prove that their chemicals are safe before they are sold and used.  

  • The government must prove chemicals are unsafe before they can be removed from the market, but it is difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency to get the information needed to conduct the required tests. The author notes that "the agency can only ask the company for data or require testing if it first proves there is a potential risk, which is hard to do without the company’s data."

  • There are about 85,000 chemicals in use. Since 1976, the EPA has issued regulations to control five of them.

The good news is that there is potential for change. Recently, two senators introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013. If enacted, it would require manufacturers to prove the safety of products before they are sold. More information on the bill can be found at the legislative update page of Safer Chemicals: Healthy Families.

You can make a difference in this important effort by contacting your senators. The Center for Environmental Health has provided an easy way to do so at their Urge Your Senator page.  Contacting your senators through the site is quick and easy and can make a difference. Please take a moment to take a stand.  


Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing out that speaking up does make a difference. Our elected officials can't know what matters to us if we don't tell them! It's time our senators realize the "Safe Chemicals Act" is a priority for a lot of people.

Martha McLaughlin said...

The chemical problem can seem so big and overwhelming that I'm always very happy to learn about something concrete that I can do to make a difference. I appreciate the groups and sites that make it easy for me, too.

DebraSY said...

I am not optimistic about this bill. It is sponsored by two Democrats and the 27 co-sponsors are all Democrats. Until the Republican WAKE UP, this will just be gridlocked, me thinks. I've tried writing to Sam Brownback (R) and Roy Blunt (R) before on issues, and I just get back form letters respectfully disagreeing with me or, worse, pretending they are in agreement with me, but stating the exact opposite position. Most recently I wrote to Blunt about his failure to support universal background checks on gun purchases. Sigh. Ironically, he's protecting this Mennonite's right to carry arms (and without the inconvenience of having to pass a background check).

Martha McLaughlin said...

Frankly, I'm not super-optimistic, either, but I think the more support the bill gets, the better the chances are for something similar to pass in the future. Politicians do "wake up" in response to public opinion sometimes, and I figure any time we can respectfully but firmly voice our opinion, we should do it.

Martha McLaughlin said...

A bi-partisan bill has now been introduced. It was actually introduced May 22, but I somehow missed the news until yesterday. I talk about it in today's post.