Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content
Share this page

Support PSR!

Your membership supports PSR's work to reduce global warming, eliminate toxics in our environment and abolish nuclear weapons. YOU make our work possible. Thank you.

Donate Now »

Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

On sale now! Enter code M17ENV25 at checkout for 25% discount.

Nurses and doctors educate lawmakers on the dangers of chemicals

September 24, 2013

Senate Briefing on chemicalsPSR joined forces recently with the American Nurses Association to present an informational briefing to the US Senate on the health hazards of chemicals in consumer products and the environment. Chaired by Catherine Thomasson, MD, PSR’s executive director, the briefing focused on chemicals known as endocrine disruptors which interrupt the body’s hormone system.

Endocrine disruptors have been associated with a wide range of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to infertility and cancer.

The briefing was presented in the context of proposed legislation to reform the current law that regulates chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 or TSCA.  TSCA is universally acknowledged to be toothless and ineffective.

Dr. Thomasson noted that the proposed bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), offers “a golden opportunity with bipartisan support for reform of TSCA.”  While the CSIA allows for some improvements, in its current form, “it doesn’t go far enough to protect the public’s health from dangerous chemicals like endocrine disruptors,” she clarified.

Three notable experts spoke on the need for effective chemical regulation.  Lynn Goldman, MD, MS, MPH, Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University, and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, addressed the widespread extent of the chemical threat to human health and the cost to society of the health effects. “Medical care costs attributable to chemical hazards are at least $76.6 billion per year. The current federal law governing chemical regulation makes it difficult if not impossible to address those costs,” Dr. Goldman stated. 

Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, holder of the Scanlon Endowed Chair at the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, spoke about the role of chemicals in causing learning disabilities. “We need a proactive chemical policy that recognizes health impacts from exposures and prevents harmful chemicals from entering our marketplace,” Dr. Anderko reported.

Bruce Blumberg, PhD is a professor of Developmental and Cell Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. His cutting-edge laboratory research examines the role of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on the development of obesity and diabetes.  With the US in the midst of an obesity epidemic, effective regulation of obesogens provides another avenue for fighting this serious public health problem.

Dr. Blumberg called for a reasonable standard for determining whether chemicals are dangerous, noting, “The legal standards for evidence vary considerable in our society. If you are looking at a civil court case, a preponderance of evidence is needed to decide a case.  In a criminal case, the level of certainty must be beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the suspect.  The way the US currently looks at regulating toxic substances, a chemical must be proven to be harmful to human health beyond the remotest shadow of a doubt. That's not right."

PSR calls for the CSIA to be modified to better protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, infants, young children and the elderly, as well as workers, low-income communities, and areas with high levels of aggregate chemical exposure, such as communities near polluting industries.

It also calls for the bill to preserve the progress made by individual states to regulate chemicals.  States have made significant advances by banning some particularly dangerous chemicals such as lead, bisphenol A, phthalates and flame retardants. 

PSR also calls for timetables and deadlines in implementing chemical reform and for adequate public access to information on chemicals contained in consumer goods.

View the experts' presentations below:

Laura Anderko, PhD, RN: Chemicals and Learning Disabilities

Bruce Blumberg, PhD: Transgenerational Effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Catherine Thomasson, MD: Obesity, Diabetes and Cognitive Disability from Chemicals?

Action Alerts

More action alertsĀ»


  • Webinar: Health Risks of Nuclear Power

    As PSR chapters promote the transition to clean renewable energy, some are finding that nuclear power is being proposed as renewable. This webinar explores exactly why nuclear is not clean, not safe and not renewable. Read more »

  • Fracking Compendium 5 Water Excerpt

    Given the timely and important consideration of the issue by state officials in Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with Concerned Health Professionals of New York, has released excerpts from the upcoming Fifth Edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Released in Miami in advance of the full report, this new document contains an up-to-date analysis and compilation of the science on water contamination risks from drilling, fracking, and associated activities. Read more »

  • Natural Gas: Not a healthy or climate-protective solution for the Clean Power Plan

    Building natural gas plants to replace coal-fired power is not a solution to the climate crisis; it merely replaces one fossil fuel with another. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • April 28, 2018
    2018 Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship Awards Ceremony
    Join Oregon PSR to celebrate the high school student winners of this year's scholarship. Featuring keynote speaker Marshallese anti-nuclear and climate activist and poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. April 28 at 6 pm in Portland, Oregon.