Gloria Pan

    TSCA Reform: Too toxic to be left alone

    Posted August 5th, 2013 by

    When a toddler falls after taking his first step, mom picks him up so he can try again. When a child struggles with learning how to read, mom works with her every day until she gets it. Perseverance is one of the fundamental lessons moms teach their kids. Well, it’s time for moms to remind lawmakers to keep trying as they finally turn their attention to protecting public health from dangerous chemicals.

    After decades of inaction, the U.S. Senate is poised to consider a new bi-partisan bill to overhaul our system of regulating chemicals and toxics. It’s far from certain, however, that lawmakers are committed to seeing the process through to the end so that we end up with commonsense regulations that do what they’re supposed to do: protect the health of families and communities.

    Since Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976, only 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States have been tested for safety, and of those, only five have been restricted. That’s right – chemicals are largely unregulated in the United States, which is why moms have to worry about constant exposure to toxic substances like flame retardants, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. They are all around us in everyday products like furniture, packaging and household cleaners, and on the fruits and vegetables we eat. Such chemicals have been linked to cancers and learning disabilities, as well as damage to immune, nervous, or reproductive systems, especially in young, growing bodies.

    The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was the United States’ first effort to regulate dangerous chemicals back in 1976, and proved to be largely ineffective. But has Congress ever gone back to fix it? Not yet. That’s why it’s so exciting that something seems to be happening now.

    Here’s the lowdown: Several weeks ago, just before his death, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) worked with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) to introduce the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), which helped focus policy makers’ attention on finally trying to fix the shortcomings in TSCA. A lot of work, however, is still needed to ensure the legislation is strong and truly protects public health.

    Look at how long it took for Congress to finally try to improve regulation of dangerous chemicals: 37 years! This time around, we have to make sure our lawmakers do it right. The Chemical Safety Improvement Act must include the following commonsense measures to protect children and communities from dangerous chemicals:

    1. Establish clear protections for children, pregnant women, and hotspot communities heavily affected by pollution and toxic chemicals.
    2. Allow states to progress on toxics and support their right to be more protective than federal standards.
    3. Lay burden of proof for chemical safety on manufacturers rather than the public.
    4. Empower EPA to move quickly on the worst chemicals, including bans and phase outs if necessary.
    5. Establish timetables and deadlines to provide guidance and incentives for making quick and thoughtful progress to protect public health from dangerous chemicals.

    Congress has a lot of work to do to finally improve the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In order to make sure they actually do it, moms and family members have to be loud and clear about our expectations and join our voices to urge them forward.

    Please sign MomsRising’s petition now that tells lawmakers that moms and families expect them to persevere and reform our toxics laws now, and we need it done right this time!

    http://action.momsrising.org/go/3398?t=8&akid=4508.1976766.7ZOC3F

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    2 Comments

    August 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm by Eva Kilar

    I’m expecting my first and am now expecting to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I have spent my whole life trying to be healthy, and nothing in my diet, exercise, or weight would have suggested to my doctors that I have this disease until now. My growing feeling is that exposure to environmental chemicals (particularly those in processed foods, pesticides, and fat-free foods) has caused this problem. I feel completely stuck – I have no idea how to go about growing my own healthy food, and I have no idea how I can ever trust the grocery store again. I just can’t ignore how many people I know with type 2 diabetes or some kind of cancer. The studies seem to prove that this can’t be all about diet and exercise. How can I get away from all of these chemicals in my diet? I live in an urban area, and there just doesn’t seem to be fresh, uncontaminated food anywhere, although there is an abundance of hospitals willing to administer drugs for treatment of life-threatening auto-immune diseases. I don’t think I could accept a drug either, because they’re made from chemicals, too. I would give anything if this country would make it law to get back to basics in food production so that my baby and I could stop being poisoned with every bite.

    [Reply]

    August 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm by Brian Michael

    Looking at the chemicals we expose ourselves and children to is eye opening. My wife and I are expecting and have moved away from almost all chemical cleaners in favor of natural ones. Now I just need to worry about fire retardants in our furniture, materials and plastics in our baby products (which has been keeping me up at night), and whatever might be in our food. It’s exhausting.

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