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True protections for health are urgently needed in the new Senate reform of the Toxic Substance and Control Act of 1976 (TSCA).

Recently the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) (S. 1009) was introduced in the U.S. Senate to update the failed TSCA framework. 

The CSIA has been hailed by some as a bipartisan compromise, but public health officials, community advocates, small business owners, environmental justice leaders, scientists, workers, and parents call upon Congress to strengthen regulations to honor the legacy of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D – NJ) and provide real protections from toxic chemicals in homes, schools, and workplaces. 

Senator Lautenberg’s Safe Chemicals Act, introduced earlier this year, best reflects his decades of focus on strong health protections for the most vulnerable people and the most impacted communities.

Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute and Environmental Justice and Health Alliance, says: “It’s unacceptable that the chemical industry was able to remove a section in the Safe Chemicals Act designed to protect “hot spots” or “sacrifice zones” – communities suffering the longest and most severely from toxic chemicals.”

“Attaching state pre-emption to a weak regulatory policy constitutes the worst of both worlds,” says Kathy Curtis, LPN, Clean and Healthy New York.  “CSIA pre-empts successful state-level efforts to regulate chemicals in New York, California, Washington, Maine and elsewhere.”

“Lower IQs, infertility, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer are on the rise and linked to overwhelming contamination from unregulated chemicals. Yet this new bill puts a ‘gag order’ on doctors and nurses to prevent reporting on health impacts from chemical exposure,” comments Ana Mascarenas, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles.

Katie Huffling, RN,MS,CNM, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, concurs, “Physicians or nurses must be able to readily know the identity of a chemical, and it is their imperative to raise awareness to the public about health impacts they see linked to chemical exposure.”

“The production, storage and use of toxic chemicals creates catastrophic hazards and security vulnerabilities.  Obsolete regulations contribute to chemical disasters like the deadly fertilizer explosion in West, Texas that claimed 14 lives,” adds Rick Hind, Greenpeace.

Pam Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics says, ”Our people have high rates of birth defects and other health problems linked to chemical exposure. We need a strong bill that will protect our fisheries, traditional foods, and the health of our people.”

Jamie McConnell, Women’s Voices for the Earth explains, “We’re concerned that pregnant women and other vulnerable populations would not be adequately protect under this bill and often it is these populations that are most impacted by exposure to toxic chemicals.”

Bev Thorpe, Clean Production Action, says: “Identifying safer chemicals for products and promoting innovation in green chemistry must be a priority for the TSCA reform legislation. Otherwise, we could end up with the weakest national chemical policy of any developed nation.”