Congress Passes a Modern Toxin Control Act

June 13, 2016
‪Congress Passes a ModernToxin Control Act References: New York Times, EDF, ‪What's been wrong with chemical review in America? In 1976, our laws required only a tiny few chemicals to be regulated, and gave some 64,000 chemicals a free pass, unless the EPA could prove that the harm to society was greater than the harm to the company. The EPA had to publish it's results, and companies didn't have to publish their reported side effects. And judges had to balance the published literature on problems, leading the chemical industry to have a bunch of fake journals that published junk science so that, on balance, there were just as many articles saying a chemical was safe as other more reputable studies showed problems. We have been left with a wide range of toxins in America that were banned in the rest of the world. For example, we use Atrazine on our fields while Europe has banned it. Many university based studies show it causes estrogen confusion, while the company's studies show it to be harmless. In the end, no new chemicals have been removed from the market since the original eight banned in 1976. The TSCA Act of 1976 ended up being toothless to move forward. ‪Advocates have been trying to get the new bill passed for years to no effect. What broke the logjam was the effort of Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico working with the chemical industry to come up with language they could live with. In essence, several major compromises were made. Instead of 100 chemicals a year, the EPA is tasked with reviewing 20 a year. Ok, there are 64,000 chemicals that got a free pass so it will take 3,200 years to review everything - but the EPA has a list of the most egregious offenders, and it can get started on those right away. ‪Here are the key provisions of the bill: ‪1. Mandates safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce. ‪2. Requires a safety finding before new chemicals are allowed on the market. ‪3. Replaces TSCA’s burdensome safety standard – which prevented EPA even from banning asbestos – with a pure, health-based standard. ‪4. Explicitly requires protection of vulnerable populations, like children and pregnant women. ‪5. Enhances EPA’s authority to require testing of both new and existing chemicals. ‪6. Sets aggressive, judicially enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions and compliance with restrictions. ‪7. Makes more information about chemicals available, by limiting companies’ ability to claim information as confidential, and by giving states and health and environmental professionals access to confidential information they need to do their jobs. ‪8. Requires EPA to reduce and replace animal testing where scientifically reliable alternatives exist that would generate equivalent or better information. ‪9. Requires EPA to prioritize chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative, and that are known human carcinogens and have high toxicity. ‪10. Preserves a significant role for states in assuring chemical safety. ‪There are some obvious loopholes here. States could have passed a more rigorous standard, and EPA standards will now override those. That means some states may lose some regulatory standards ‪WWW.What will work for me. I think this is huge. It won't change anything tomorrow, but it will create a new climate. And new chemicals will have to be proven to be safe. 20 at a time, old ones will be reviewed. You will start hearing more.   ‪Pop Quiz. 1. The FDA has broad current ability to regulate and remove toxic drugs from the US environment. T or F False, until last week. We haven't removed one chemical in 40 years. 2. All new chemicals coming on the market will have to have proof of safety prior to use. T or F Yup! 3. The EPA is mandated to review 100 new chemicals a year. T or F False. That's what environmental groups wanted. Compromise ended up at 20. (Hey, it's progress) 4. Most Western advanced countries have more rigorous toxic review than the USA. T or F Sadly, true. ‪5. Our broken Congress can pass a bill? T or F Surprised you, didn't it. Give them kudos.