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The Need for Chemical Reform

February 7, 2014

PSR/Florida has been advocating for toxic chemical reform for years, providing education and resources to healthcare professionals and the public and briefing members of Congress.

We are part of The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF) coalition which represents more than 11 million individuals and includes parents, health professionals, advocates for people with learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive health advocates, environmentalists and businesses from across the nation.

Board member and pediatrician Dr. Yolanda Whyte participated in the Stroller Brigade organized by SCHF, where over 200 parents, cancer survivors, health professionals, and advocates gathered at the U.S. Capitol to ask Congress for real reform of our toxic chemical laws.

Watch these video clips of the various SCHF activities to push for chemical reform and be sure to look for Dr. Whyte and the Stroller Brigade.  

Message from Dr. Whyte on the importance of national chemical reform:

Primary care health providers give prevention advice to patients and their families to help them avoid health and safety hazards.  However, this becomes a challenge when undisclosed toxic chemical threats are present in common everyday products, some of which we have used for much of our lives, and even for generations.   It is easy to underestimate the impact of chronic exposures to low doses of toxic chemicals, even though the science is strong.  As a pediatrician, I’m especially concerned about formaldehyde in baby wash, flame retardants in children’s pajamas, heavy metals in toys and other threats that children are especially exposed to.  Pregnant women and unborn babies are also at high risk. Umbilical cord blood studies from newborn babies have shown the presence of over 200 industrial chemicals, some of which were banned several years ago.  There are over 83,000 chemicals in common everyday products, some of which are strongly associated with cancer, developmental problems, genetic mutations, asthma, diabetes and hormonal problems.   

You might be asking “how could this be?” Well the short answer is that our nation’s chemicals policy law is woefully out of date and essentially grandfathered in the majority of chemicals now on the market. It has been 37 years since we last updated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

Recently a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate called the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, or S 1009. At first blush this would seem a giant step forward for chemical reform.  However, as always, the devil is in the details. As drafted, the CSIA would not deliver the critical elements of meaningful public health and environmental protection. It should not move forward unless fundamental issues are fully addressed.

To win the support of PSR, any bill to reform TSCA will have to:

  • Protect pregnant women, children and vulnerable communities.
  • Remove the red tape on EPA that prevents them from regulating notoriously bad actor chemicals.
  • Allow states to pass their own laws on toxic chemicals.
  • Move the market toward safer chemicals.

The Chemical Safety Improvement Act does not meet these important health criteria.

We urge our senators and representatives to strengthen the legislation in these critical areas, and to enact a policy that protects public health and the environment, and drives innovation.

PSR will be following this legislation very closely and will work with other organizations so that together, we will be in a strong position to prevent what we cannot cure.

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