In today’s world, toxic chemicals are everywhere—in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the products we use. These chemicals pose an ever-increasing threat to human health and the environment, and scientific evidence continues to link chemical exposure to increasing numbers of health problems, including asthma, certain types of cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, neurological diseases, obesity, and more. Among the chemicals that have received the most attention in recent years are formaldehyde, toxic flame retardants, phthalates, parabens, and Bisphenol A (BPA), which are found in many of the products we use every day, like household cleaners, baby products, furniture, and plastics. We might assume that the government is actively testing and protecting us from toxic chemicals, but that is far from the truth.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976 to allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect us from the dangers of toxic chemicals in consumer products, but it has fallen woefully short of this goal and is in urgent need of modernization. One of the major problems with TSCA is that it does not require companies to prove that chemicals are safe before they are used in products. Rather, the EPA must prove that a chemical is unsafe before it can be restricted. To date, the EPA has only collected sufficient health and safety data for about 200 of more than 80,000 chemicals that are on the market, and has restricted certain uses of just five chemicals. The growing number of health problems related to chemical exposures makes it increasingly clear that the outdated TSCA must be reformed and that the U.S. should fundamentally reform its approach to assessing risks from chemicals to protect all members of the population.
LCV is a member of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition and is working with Congress to reform our broken chemical law. We are also committed to working with the administration to use its existing authority to take actions to restrict chemicals that pose health and environmental concerns. Many of our state league partners work to advance chemical policy reform in their state legislatures with the goals of gaining immediate public health protections while continuing to keep pressure on federal legislators and industry to work towards national chemical policy reform.