When the Laws Meant to Protect Us Do Nothing of the Sort

When the Laws Meant to Protect Us Do Nothing of the Sort

Once thought to pose little likelihood of exposure, we now know many chemicals migrate from the materials and products in which they’re used – including furniture, plastics and food cans – into our bodies. The federal Centers for Disease Control has found that the blood or tissues of almost every American carry hundreds of these chemicals, some present even before birth. Yet under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the US EPA cannot restrict even the most dangerous of these chemicals and lacks the information it needs to evaluate how this complex mixture of chemicals affects our health. EPA has been able to require testing of only a few hundred of the 62,000 chemicals that have been on the market since TSCA was passed 35 years ago, a number that has increased to 85,000 chemicals today.

Passed in 1976, TSCA’s presumption that chemicals should be considered innocent until proven guilty was a sharp departure from the approach taken with pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Since then, an overwhelming body of science has shown that presumption to be unfounded. Published studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown many common chemicals can cause chronic diseases and can be toxic even at low doses.

The Safe Chemicals Act responds to increasingly forceful warnings from scientific and medical experts — including the President’s Cancer Panel — that current policies have failed to curtail common chemicals linked to diseases such as cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, and more.

The Safe Chemicals Act would overhaul the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which is widely perceived to have failed to protect public health and the environment. Specifically the Act would:

  • Require EPA to identify and restrict the “worst of the worst” chemicals;
  • Require basic health and safety information for all chemicals;
  • Reduce the burden of toxic chemical exposures on people of color and low-income and indigenous communities;
  • Upgrade scientific methods for testing and evaluating chemicals to reflect best practices; and
  • Generally provide EPA with the tools and resources it needs to identify and address chemicals posing health and environmental concerns.


Under current law, EPA is powerless to act against even the most notorious chemicals,” said Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and a leading expert on TSCA. “The Safe Chemicals Act would provide EPA with the authority it needs to protect public health; the marketplace with the information companies need to innovate safe products; and consumers with the comfort in knowing that their families are being protected,” he concluded.

It’s just common sense. Learn more about the Safe Chemicals Act and how you can help at SaferChemicals.org.

Janelle Sorensen

Janelle Sorensen is the Chief Communications Officer for Healthy Child Healthy World. She is passionate about creating a healthier environment, not just at home for her own children, but for everyone’s children.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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