Americans to Congress: Give EPA the power to take immediate action on the most dangerous chemicals

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign today released the results of a nationwide poll conducted in August by renowned pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners.  The most striking finding:  Majorities of Republicans and Independents as well as Democrats strongly support adoption of new legislation that would give EPA the power to immediately restrict the use of dangerous chemicals.

It seems that all that's left is for Congress to act … 

The poll reached a demographically and geographically representative group of 1,000 registered voters across the country.  It found that voters across political affiliations are seriously concerned about the limitations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including that:

  • TSCA did not require testing and a demonstration of safety of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce in 1976 (87% of voters are concerned);
  • EPA is unable to take dangerous chemicals off the market, even ones as dangerous as asbestos (80% concerned); and
  • TSCA has allowed EPA to require testing for only a small fraction of chemicals on the market (84% concerned).

When various proposals for TSCA reform were described, large majorities of voters expressed strong support:

  • "If a chemical is detected in babies at birth or in infants, it will be taken off the market"
    • 84% of voters support
    • 60% strongly support:
      • 66% of Democrats
      • 52% of Independents
      • 59% of Republicans
  • "Exposure to other toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, that have been extensively studied, will be reduced to the maximum extent possible"
    • 85% of voters support
    • 59% strongly support:
      • 69% of Democrats
      • 51% of Independents
      • 57% of Republicans

Voters also express strong support for a systematic overhaul of TSCA that requires the safety of all chemicals to be demonstrated:

  • "A process will be created so that all chemicals in use must be tested and shown to be safe over the next 15 years"
    • 81% of voters support
    • 57% strongly support (breakdown  by political affiliation not available to me)

It seems that all that's left is for Congress to act!  Click here to help make sure they get the message:  EDF Action Alert: Help Strengthen America's Toxic Chemicals Standards

And to learn more about this issue, visit our website and blog.

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4 Comments

  1. thomas
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Any thoughts on the new SNURs for carbon nanotubes? http://www.safenano.org/SingleNews.aspx?NewsId=898

  2. Posted November 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    While it may come as a surprise to some, the American Chemistry Council and its members agree with the Environmental Defense Fund and the majority of those who took your poll that a review and revision of the existing law (the Toxic Substances Control Act) that governs and regulates chemicals in commerce is needed. The time has come to harness the scientific and technological advances that have been developed since 1976 when the law was first enacted. Modernizing the law will help us enhance the safety of chemicals as we continue to bring to market the products that save lives, improve our environment, protect our children and strengthen our economy.

    ACC is committed to reforms that will restore confidence while ensuring that we continue to bring innovative and vital products to Americans.

    Along with ensuring that the system reflects the latest advances in science and technology, Congress must grant the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the necessary tools and authority to make decisions on chemical safety and enforce them in a timely manner.

    Today, the EPA cannot make a determination on whether or not a chemical is safe for its intended use. That must change. Authorizing EPA to make safety determinations on priority chemicals on a timely basis will go a long way toward building trust in the federal government and the products on our shelves.

    The American Chemistry Council and its members look forward to partnering with Congress, the Administration and all stakeholders to move forward with modernizing the existing law.

    Cal Dooley
    President & CEO
    American Chemistry Council

  3. Roger McFadden
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I am pleased that the ACC intends to support TSCA reform. It is well past due. I would hope that ACC will not only advocate for EPA "to be given necessary tools and authority to make decisions on chemical safety and enforce them in a timely manner." But I would hope that ACC would also support a policy which places a substantially higher level of accountability and responsibility on chemical manufacturers than what exists now to prove that their products are safe BEFORE they are distributed throughout the supply chain. This would move ACC in the right direction of restoring consumer confidence in the chemical industry.

    Roger McFadden
    VP, Senior Scientist
    Staples, Inc.

  4. Posted November 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Roger –

    The American Chemistry Council and our member companies agree with you, the time is right to modernize TSCA. Our industry has a long commitment to transparency and accountability. Through ACC’s Responsible Care® program, independent third-party auditors inspect our member companies operations and product management programs, certifying them as compliant with strict environmental, health, safety, security and product stewardship requirements. In addition, our members publicly report their performance (http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_responsiblecare/sec_members.asp?CID=1320&DID=4863 ). We are extending this commitment to transparency and accountability to modernizing TSCA, making the safety of our products top priority in our efforts to improve the program. As part our 10 Principles for TSCA Modernization that the industry released in August we believe there should be a clear expectation that industry has the information necessary to make appropriate decisions about the safety of their products. That means that chemical manufacturers and users should provide EPA hazard, use and exposure information – and that information should be used to assess the safety of products for their intended use. Another important component is establishment of clear scientific principles and protocols to evaluate all chemical research and testing. We support subjecting all chemical research to high and consistent standards to support the decision making process regardless of who is conducting the testing. ACC’s 10 Principles: http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/sec_article_acc.asp?CID=2178&DID=9939

    Cal

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