Let's face it: The current system for overseeing chemicals used in consumer products is broken.
Last year, Congress banned lead in children's products. But recently, we learned that some manufacturers that phased lead out of children's jewelry are using cadmium, another brain toxin that's a carcinogen to boot. How can we prevent the next chemical crisis from threatening our health and contributing to rising health costs?
When Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976 to protect us from toxic chemicals, it grandfathered in some 60,000 chemicals with no testing requirements. Another 20,000 chemicals were added to this list over the next three decades. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required testing on only 200 chemicals. The EPA's hands were so tied that it didn't even have authority to ban asbestos, an established carcinogen banned in 40 countries.
A recent report by some of the nation's leading public health professionals describes the toll that toxic chemicals are taking on our health and our budget. This report, called the Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, summarizes the insidious contribution of environmental toxins to an array of chronic health problems.