Toxic Substances Control Act Update Could Leave Washingtonians Without Critical Health Protections From Toxic Chemicals

Seattle, WA – This week Congress is set to vote on an update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the federal law regulating toxic chemicals that has not been updated since 1976. The vote could come as early as today.

The following is the statement of Washington Toxics Coalition’s Executive Director Laurie Valeriano:

“We are disappointed in the proposed reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The chemical industry backed bill falls short of what is needed to adequately protect Washingtonians from harmful chemicals.

We are doubtful it will restore consumer confidence in the safety of chemicals or the products they are used in given the new hurdles EPA will have to clear before it can take action on a chemical and the slow pace at which chemicals will be reviewed. The bill also weakens federal authority to intercept imported products – like toys, shoes and clothing – that contain dangerous chemicals.

One of our biggest concerns is the provision in the bill that will preempt or block states from restricting a toxic chemical for up to four years if the USEPA puts the chemical on a list for further study. This means that even if a state determines that a chemical poses a health threat to its residents, the state will not be able to take action.

Four years is too long to wait for action. While state residents wait, billions of pounds of chemicals already determined to be a health threat will remain in our homes exposing our children and running into waterways like Puget Sound and the Columbia River.

Although there are certain exceptions, states should not have to ask permission to protect residents from toxic chemicals, particularly when this part of TSCA is the only part that has worked for years. We thank the legislators who worked on protecting Washington state’s new flame retardant law. However, because overall states will still be prevented from protecting their citizens from known toxic chemicals, we cannot support the final bill.

Washington state is a national leader on toxics policy.  For over a decade, the state has passed strong, often first-in-the nation, laws and regulations that protect kids, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations, from brain-damaging toxic flame retardants, hormone-assaulting phthalates and many other chemicals we know are harmful. We will continue to defend these laws, and fight at both the state and federal level to protect all of Washington’s residents and the environment from harmful chemicals.“

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