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House Chemical Bill Fails to Protect Public from Toxic Chemicals

Washington, DC – Late yesterday, Representative Shimkus (R-IL), the Chairman of the Environment and Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled legislation titled the “Chemicals in Commerce Act” that would update the 37 year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Labeled a “discussion draft,” the proposal will form the basis of discussion in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It follows six months of hearings in the Committee and several more months of debate over a similar Senate bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), that has since stalled.

Andy Igrejas, the Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families – a coalition of 450 health and environmental organizations, unions and small businesses – had the following statement.

“This bill would do nothing whatsoever to protect the public from the health impacts of toxic chemicals and would instead roll back the very limited oversight that we currently have. It lacks credibility except as a political statement for corporate supporters in an election year. Anyone who cares about the health impacts of chemicals on American families will forcefully oppose this legislation.

The draft ignores nearly every recommendation for reform made by health professionals, environmental experts, and advocates for families dealing with cancer, autism, infertility and other health problems linked to chemical exposure, but it adopts the wish list of oil and chemical companies like Dow and ExxonMobil.”

Among its many problems, the Chemicals in Commerce Act would:

  • Annul laws in Maine, Washington, California, Minnesota and several other states that provide most of the information on toxic chemicals in consumer products.
  • Continue the legal standard and other hurdles in current TSCA that prevented EPA from taking action on asbestos.
  • Make it nearly impossible for EPA to require health information for new chemicals before they end up on the market and in the products we bring into our homes. (This is one of the few areas where EPA currently has some authority.)
  • Significantly roll back EPA’s authority to restrict the use of existing toxic chemicals in products.
  • Contradict the recommendations of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Pediatrics for how chemical safety should be reviewed.
  • Require EPA to weigh the economic benefits of a chemical- like whether it leaves streaks on your windows- against whether it causes birth defects, cancer, autism, or infertility.