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Lautenberg hearing with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta highlights chemical threats to children

Polls Show Chemical Policy Reform Has Broad Bipartisan Support

(Newark, NJ – Oct. 26) – Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) – who championed a bill to overhaul our outdated federal chemicals policy — today chaired a hearing in his home state on toxic chemicals and children’s health. Witnesses at the hearing included: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson; CNN’s Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta; New Jersey mother Lisa Huguenin who has a child with autism and an immune system disorder; and Frederica Perera, the Director of Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.

Last April Senator Lautenberg introduced the Safe Chemicals Act as an attempt to overhaul the failed 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. This was followed by another bill introduced in the House – the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act – by Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA).

“Although these important bills never made it through the last busy Congressional session, there is still strong momentum to reform this outdated law,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families – a coalition of 250 public health and environmental groups working to overhaul TSCA. “Too many families are affected by chronic disease and want crack down on toxic chemicals.”

“It’s time to stop ‘field testing’ chemicals on one of our most vulnerable populations — children,” said Lisa Huguenin at the hearing. “I urge Congress to enact the Safe Chemicals Act and reform TSCA. There is no longer time to waste. Every passing moment means that another child’s health and development may be compromised.”

Recent polling conducted by the Mellman Group in key electoral swing districts found overwhelming public support for reforming our out-of-date system for managing chemicals. The findings indicate that, regardless of political affiliation, voters are much more likely to support a candidate for public office who promotes better health and safety standards for chemicals.

“From BPA in baby bottles to formaldehyde in mattresses, consumers are tired of fighting a constant battle to keep dangerous chemicals out of their homes,” said Igrejas.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families will continue to work closely with Congress to make sure that a TSCA reform bill will:

  • Require chemical companies to develop and make publicly available basic health and safety information for all chemicals.
  • Require chemicals to meet a safety standard that protects vulnerable sub-populations, including pregnant women and children.
  • Include a new program to identify communities that are “hot spots” for toxic chemicals and to take action to reduce exposures.

“Our chemical safety system has definitely failed communities of color,” said Kim Gaddy of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance and the New Jersey Environmental Federation. “We need updates to the law that protect the most vulnerable among us — our children — and reduce hot spots in urban communities that face the highest exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Cecil Corbin-Mark from the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum and the Northeast Environmental Justice Network agreed: “From toxic mattresses to toxic toys, many of the cheapest and most dangerous products are in communities of color, available at low income dollar stores and refurbished goods outlets. The laws governing chemicals have put the resilient and hardworking people of Newark in danger every time they buy something their families need. It’s not right, its not American and we thank Senator Lautenberg for leading the way out. I only hope that the Senate and the House will have the courage to fix this broken law.”