U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for releasing an initial risk assessment of five chemicals found in common household products. The EPA's risk assessments are being carried out under the agency's limited authority in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Lautenberg is the leader in Congress in efforts to reform TSCA and provide the EPA with the authority to get health and safety data needed to complete risk assessments more quicklyand then take steps to protect Americans from harmful chemicals. Lautenberg will reintroduce TSCA reform legislation in the 113th Congress.
"EPA should be applauded for using this authority to evaluate the risk of common chemicals that are found in homes and businesses across the country," said Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health. "However, EPA is still seriously limited under existing law, and we must reform TSCA if we ever hope to truly protect American families from toxic chemicals. Today, when the EPA identifies a toxic chemical that poses a risk to the public, it remains effectively unable to protect Americans from those risks. It's like a doctor making a diagnosis, but being unable to write a prescription. We will continue working to reform this broken law to ensure that every chemical that comes into contact with a child has been proven safe."
Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for roughly 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances. As a result, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified TSCA as a "high risk" area of the law in 2009. Lautenberg has been working to reform TSCA since 2005, and his Safe Chemicals Act was approved by the Senate EPW Committee for the first time last year.