U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today launched the "Chemicals of Concern" new media campaign to raise awareness about the dangerous toxic chemicals found in everyday consumer products. Lautenberg's campaign will spotlight chemicals and focus on the health risks associated with each chemical. Chemicals will include 1,4 dioxane found in laundry detergent, formaldehyde used in wrinkle-free clothing, and BPA in the lining of food cans. Follow the campaign on Senator Lautenberg's Facebook and Twitter pages.
Senator Lautenberg is the leader in Congress on reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and last week he was joined by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and 27 additional Senators to introduce the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2013." The bill would provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to protect Americans from harmful chemicals.
"There are hundreds of industrial chemicals found in our bodies, yet the public knows very little about the health effects. Exposing these "chemicals of concern' will provide much-needed health information for individuals and families to consider the next time they head out to buy laundry detergent, new shirts, or canned food to use in tonight's dinner," said Senator Lautenberg. "Americans deserve to know that the products they use every day have been screened for safety and won't make their families sick. Without reforms in the Safe Chemicals Act, we don't have those assurances today."
Testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found more than 212 industrial chemicals in Americans' bodies, including at least six known carcinogens and dozens that are linked to cancer, birth defects, and other diseases. Many of these chemicals are found in a wide-range of consumer products including cleaners, detergents, furniture, food packaging, electronics, vinyl products, non-stick cookware, and even children's products. Research has shown that children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures.
The "Safe Chemicals Act of 2013" would modernize TSCA to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the tools it needs to collect health and safety information, screen chemicals for safety, and require risk management when chemicals cannot be 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 only been able to require testing for roughly 200 of the more than 84,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances since TSCA was first enacted in 1976. These shortfalls led the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify TSCA as a "high risk" area of the law in 2009.