Small is beautiful: Polling shows huge bipartisan support for TSCA reform among small business owners

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

This week, the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a bipartisan national survey of 511 small business owners conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies. The survey showed that small business owners, just like voters, support stronger chemical safety regulations to mitigate the risks posed to human health and the environment by toxic chemicals.

Small business owners are an important part of the discussion on TSCA reform; the chemical industry frequently uses this group as an excuse to oppose tighter regulations, claiming that these regulations are “bad for business” and would detrimentally harm small business owners. In contrast, the survey shows that there is broad consensus among small business owners on the need to ensure the safety of their products and their customers. 

Especially encouraging is that 73% of small business owners are in favor of TSCA reform similar to that provided in the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011: chemical manufacturers would be required to prove a chemical is safe in order to use it; EPA would have the ability to limit or ban uses of a dangerous chemical; and incentives would be provided to support for innovation towards safer chemicals. On top of this, specific aspects of the Act’s reforms garnered support as high as 90% of those surveyed, results which held across party affiliations.

Support driven by the values of safety, responsibility and accessibility to information

Here are the results for some specific proposed reforms that are relevant to small business owners:

  • 91% support chemical manufacturers being held responsible for ensuring their chemicals are safe.
  • 94% believe that companies using chemicals of concern to human health should disclose their presence to customers and to the public.
  • 75% support stricter regulations of chemicals used in everyday products.
  • 92% support a public, easily accessible database identifying chemicals of high concern to human and environmental health.
  • 82% believe businesses should be required to share chemical ingredient information all along the supply chain – from chemical manufacturer to final product manufacturer.

If these results aren’t enough to convince you that TSCA reform is good for small business, perhaps the strikingly high degree of support among Republican small business owners may help. Placing the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers, a central tenant of the Safe Chemical Act, is supported by 89% of Republicans as well as 96% of Democrats. Increasing the transparency of the chemical industry through the disclosure of chemicals of concern and developing an easily accessible database have even more support from Republicans, 93% and 91% respectively. These questions had almost complete agreement across the board, with 96% of Democrats also supporting both reforms.

The excuses stop here

The fact that small business owners show an overwhelming consensus in support of the very regulations that too many in the chemical industry are trying to “protect” them from should, we hope, be enough to end the “bad for business” excuse. The current lack of protection from exposure to toxic chemicals found in everyday products being sold to consumers is bad for business. The values driving the support we see from small business owners – safety, responsibility, and accessibility – are what TSCA reform should be all about.

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