Safety Advocate Calls For Update to Toxic Substance Regulations

Posted on August 1, 2013

In a new report that acts as a call to action, the President of Consumers Union explains that lawmakers at the state and federal levels need to work harder to pass regulations targeting hazardous chemicals that could wreak untold damage on unsuspecting Americans.

He points out the deficiencies of the current regulatory landscape, which has its genesis in the Toxic Substances Control Act.  The law, which has been around for just shy of 40 years, provided a mechanism for the Environmental Protection Agency to put together accounts of the various threats posed by different chemicals.  When the risks were judged to be too great, they would theoretically be able to limit or even ban the chemicals.

Unfortunately, the law is said to have worked better in theory than in practice.  Since the law’s passage way back in 1976, the EPA has only been able to take action against five different chemicals out of 83,000 that fall within their purview.  This limited scope is made possible due to the various trade secret clauses contained within the law and a legislative morass that has shackled the EPA’s abilities.

Essentially, chemical makers don’t have to prove safety; the EPA must prove danger.  This is different from recent rulings by the European Union and in even in some states.  California has in fact somewhat led the charge toward restricting chemicals perceived to be hazardous.  The report states that Consumers Union will continue to exert pressure to improve chemical safety.

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