The Obama administration is announcing new principles to guide Congress in updating the 33-year-old law that governs how the Environmental Protection Agency controls toxic chemicals, saying the current law is inadequate to protect against risks.
"The American people are looking to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science and that unacceptable risks haven't been ignored — and unfortunately the current law doesn't allow us to grant them that assurance," says EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.
Since passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, EPA "has issued regulations to control only five existing chemicals," she said. "That's five from a universe of almost 80,000."Jackson listed some chemicals of special concern, including bisphenol A, used in some baby and water bottles; certain polybrominated diphenyl ethers used in flame retardants; and phthalates, used to give plastic flexibility.
Jackson outlined the principles EPA believes are essential for reforming chemical management legislation. Broadly, the principles are that chemicals need to be reviewed for safety using strong science-based standards, to protect human health and the environment. Chemical manufacturers need to give EPA the information it needs to determine that safety, and EPA needs authority to take action when chemicals don't meet standards.
Steve - would it be facetious to say this legislation is long overdue?