Here’s an eye-opener: Almost all of the more than 80,000 chemicals approved for use in the U.S. have never been tested for toxicity to people.
Only about 200 have ever been tested!1 This means we don’t know the safety of most of the chemicals in the products that surround us every day.
The problem can be addressed by updating the grossly outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which requires no testing for chemical approval. In fact it requires the EPA to prove a chemical is unsafe before it can be tested. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has introduced the Safe Chemicals Act to reverse the burden of proof, so companies must prove a chemical is safe in order for it to be approved for use. The bill has cleared committee and is waiting a vote on the Senate floor. We need to urge the Senate to pass it right away.
We might not know the safety of the chemicals that surround us, but what we do know is that 99% of pregnant women in the U.S. now carry multiple toxic chemicals in their bodies. Scientists are increasingly implicating chemical buildup to rising incidence of numerous diseases, birth defects and developmental disabilities.2
In the U.S., breast cancer increased 40% between 1973 and 1998; asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995; trouble conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982; between 1997 and 2008 the prevalence of autism increased nearly 300% nationally. Nearly 1 in 6 American children is now affected by a learning or developmental disability.3
In the European Union, which has stricter chemical-approval laws, scientists have found much lower levels of chemical pollutants in people’s bodies. It’s time for our Senate to follow other countries’ lead, and make sure chemicals are safe before they are approved.
The lack of progress in updating this law comes as a result of a massive, decades-long effort on the part of the chemical industry, pushing chemicals approvals and lobbying against reform.
A recent expose in the Chicago Tribune, revealed the combined efforts of tobacco companies and chemical manufacturers to push the use of fire retardants that weren’t even effective. Their tactics included pushing junk science, creating sham think tanks and experts, and even secretly paying a former tobacco executive to run a deceptive campaign to organize fire marshals in favor of the chemicals — all in order to suppress mounting evidence of the danger of these chemicals, and avoid having to engineer a cigarette that was less of a fire hazard.4
The chemical industry’s lobbying efforts continue. But now we have a chance to make sure that only safe chemicals are approved for use, with the Safe Chemicals Act.
The law is a no-brainer. The Senate should take this opportunity to reduce our exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals, protecting our health and even lowering the cost of healthcare. Urge your senators to take action now.
Click below to automatically sign the petition:
Thanks for fighting to protect us from toxic chemicals.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. “Safe Chemicals Act Could Reverse Burden Of Proof For Toxic Chemicals, Protect Children,” Huffington Post, 7/24/12
2. “Chemicals and our health: Why recent science is a call to action,” Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
3. “Take out toxics,” Natural Resources Defense Council
4. “Playing with Fire: Chemical companies, Big Tobacco and the toxic products in your home,” Chicago Tribune, 5/6/12