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WV chemical spill shows how little we know

January 15, 2014

Last week, an industrial chemical used in coal processing seeped from a ruptured storage tank and contaminated the water supply serving some 300,000 West Virginians. Although some residents have been told they can drink their tap water again, officials are still struggling to determine how much danger the little-known chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, poses to health.

This industrial accident highlights a key flaw in our system of chemical regulation. The chemical that contaminated West Virginia's Kanawha Valley is one among tens of thousands of industrial compounds that are on the market today without any publicly available hazard or safety data.

The law governing industrial chemicals, the Toxic Substance Control Act, passed in 1976, "grandfathered in" thousands of chemicals like the one contaminating West Virginians' water. This meant they could be marketed without any safety testing or data. As a result we know very little about whether these chemicals are harmful to our health.

Tell your senators that you want real reform of the Toxic Substance Control Act. True reform will protect all communities' health, including hot-spot communities.

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    Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect humanity from the gravest threats to health and survival. Right now, you can make a difference by registering your comments on the EPA's new Clean Power rule to limit carbon from existing coal-burning power plants. Just click the button to get started.

  • U.S. House bill fails to protect from chemicals

    Tell Congress you won’t support phony chemicals policy reform -- only real, health-protective reform.

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