By an overwhelming vote of 398 to 1, the U.S. House of Representatives this week approved a bill to update the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time in nearly 40 years. Among other things, the bill makes it easier for the EPA to request new safety data on chemicals and regulate chemicals already on the market.
Good news? Not so fast. While everyone agrees that the antiquated 1976 act was in desperate need of an update, the bill that passed falls short of what’s necessary to ensure that everyday chemicals are safe, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Ken Cook, EWG’s president and cofounder, said:
American families have waited far too long for a strong regulatory program that aggressively protects their children’s health and safety from toxic chemicals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at least 1000 toxic chemicals deserve immediate attention. And we need assurance that the most dangerous chemicals will be regulated or banned in a timely manner. We commend the House for its focus on the need to overhaul chemical policy, but this piece of legislation will not do the job. It tips much too far in favor of an industry in serious need of regulation.
Industry Over Families?
After the vote, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) called the bill’s passage a “win-win situation for the American public.” But are corporate interests favored over families in the new legislation? Yes, says the EWG. For example, it would allow chemical companies to pay for quick reviews and approval of their favorite chemicals.
What You Can Do
Make your voice heard. Write to your Senators, Representatives, and other government officials and let them know how you feel about toxic chemicals reform!