Twenty-six senators are taking a bipartisan stand for safer chemicals in American households. On Monday, July 9, a group of lawmakers submitted a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson supporting efforts to regulate PBDEs, toxic flame retardants common in household furniture, electronics, and baby products that have been linked to neurological diseases, developmental problems, infertility, and cancer.
Their letter comes on the heels of a Chicago Tribune series exposing how chemical manufacturers have misled the public about the health risks posed by flame retardants and argued for their inclusion in furniture despite their inability to prevent or slow fires. New evidence of the dangers posed by PBDEs appeared just this week as a study found a connection between prenatal exposure to low doses of PBDEs and Rett’s syndrome, a form of Autism that impairs memory and learning capabilities and decreases social behavior.
The link between chemical exposure in our homes and rising incidences of health problems is becoming increasingly clear. With that clarity comes the realization that our current chemical policy, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is failing to safeguard against toxic chemicals. "Americans deserve to know that the chemicals used in everyday consumer products are safe," the Senators’ letter said. "This reinforces why there is broad agreement that TSCA must be reformed to protect American families from dangerous chemicals in a cost-effective way, and we urge you to continue to work with Congress to enact consensus reforms.”
The bipartisan support of this letter, which includes twenty-three Democrats and Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins, is a significant and welcomed shift in the chemical reform landscape. Senator Frank Lautenberg has been pushing for reform through the Safe Chemicals Act, which would ensure that chemicals are safe before they enter our products, homes, and environment. We are hopeful that this letter will serve as the momentum needed to gain bipartisan support for the Safe Chemicals Act as well.