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Most Americans believe that if they can buy a product at the grocery store or the hardware store, the government has tested it and determined that it’s safe.
But that’s not true. The chemical safety law we’ve had in place since 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act, allows chemicals to be used in consumer products without any evidence of safety. And, even worse because of a court case in 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has lost its power to regulate or remove hazardous chemicals from the marketplace — not even asbestos, arsenic, chromium, formaldehyde, BPA or other dangerous substances that have been linked to birth defects and cancer.
Studies show we carry these chemicals around in our bodies, but we don’t know the full impact they are having on our health, how they interact with each other — or with medication we take.
Some states are trying to fill in the gaps. But most states — like New Mexico — can’t afford to do any testing. And they have no state office that regulates chemical safety. These chemicals are in products produced all over the country — and the world — and sold in stores in every community. This cries out for a nationwide solution.
In short, the law has been broken for far too long. And Congress needs to work together and act to protect families, young children, and pregnant women.
I’ve been working for almost two years to craft a bill with both Democrats and Republicans to reform our nation’s broken chemical safety law. Earlier this month, I introduced legislation with broad support from both parties that would make sure the EPA can finally protect our kids from dangerous chemicals. It would:
- Require safety reviews for all chemicals in active commerce,
- Ensure the EPA takes into consideration only the impact on health and the environment when determining whether to allow a chemical to be sold or manufactured,
- Require chemical companies contribute to the cost of regulations,
- And explicitly require that the EPA base its decisions on how chemicals impact the most vulnerable among us — children, pregnant women, the elderly, and chemical workers.
Our bill is named for the late New Jersey Senator Lautenberg, who dedicated his career to public health causes including this one. It’s called the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
Our bill is bipartisan. We had a good hearing recently. We’re listening to all sides, and we’re continuing to work to improve it. But unlike past efforts that have failed, I believe our bill has the support we need to pass Congress. I hope you’ll join me in spreading the word about the importance of fixing this broken law.
We have a moral obligation to act to protect our kids.
United States Senator