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The need for truly health protective reform is evident. Studies continue to be released documenting the impacts of environmental toxics on health, and rates of chronic diseases continue to rise. A study by New York University reveals endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) in the European Union (EU) are likely to contribute substantially to disease across the lifespan: over $100 billion a year in health care costs in the EU for diseases associated with EDCs, including IQ loss, ADHD, infertility, diabetes and other disorders that have been increasing in the U.S. The researchers also report that chemicals contribute "substantially" to obesity, diabetes, and male reproductive disorders. The estimated health care cost associated with chemicals in plastics is at least $28 billion per year, according to the NYU study.
Needless to say, PSR has been involved in the efforts to prevent exposures to toxic chemicals for a long time. And since the ‘90s we’ve recognized the connection between lax chemical regulation and the health of our patients and communities.
Unfortunately, SB 697 would not improve our current chemical management and regulatory system in a manner that prevents disease.
SB 697- Critical Flaws:
- The schedule for reviewing chemicals as hazardous and high priority is still too slow;
- Inadequate funding mechanisms- industry fees would be capped at 25% of the program or $18 million;
- Low priority loophole-EPA could designate as many chemicals as they like as low priority i.e. "safe" on the basis of limited information, without completing a full safety assessment and without the ability of folks to challenge this designation because there is no judicial review process;
- Preemption-states would be preempted from taking new actions to regulate any "high priority" chemical for which EPA has initiated a safety review. The safety review and regulation process could take years to complete. This is one of the ways the bill is weaker than current law;
- States wouldn’t be allowed to co-enforce or adopt EPA restrictions on chemicals (weakening of current law) and the waiver process for States to set more protective standards than EPA is much more onerous than current law;
- New rules make it harder for EPA to regulate chemicals in consumer products -- even if EPA declares a chemical unsafe they would have limited authority to regulate products containing that chemical. EPA would have to prove that the product presented a "significant source of exposure." This would significantly impede EPA’s ability to safeguard health;
- EPA’s authority over imported products is weakened- they would have a more difficult time preventing consumer products containing toxic chemicals from getting into the U.S;
- No action is required on chemicals already known to be toxic like asbestos or persistent bio-accumulative toxins;
- Safety reviews do not have to take into account aggregate exposure to all sources of a chemical when assessing safety or consider the impacts of exposure to other chemicals. Further there is no requirement for assessments of the exposures and risks that could result from spills;
- It retains the less health protective standard for assessing chemicals, "no unreasonable risk of harm" instead of the "reasonable certainty of no harm" standard utilized to assess pesticides on fruits and vegetables; and
- While the safety standard definition does not explicitly require a cost benefit analysis, if and when a chemical does not meet the standard a determination about whether any restrictions will be put in place requires a cost benefit analysis "to the extent practicable" based upon certain factors. See Section 6(d)(4)
Page Updated March 17, 2015
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