Monday, December 24, 2007

My Christmas Wish: Better Chemical Regulation

This Christmas, I could ask Santa to make people stop drinking bottled water or ask that he help people remember their canvas bags when they go to the market, but I think it might be best to ask for something even more far-reaching.

I would like to ask Santa to make the U.S. government and the EPA create stricter regulations and review policies for the man-made chemicals that find their way into almost everything in our homes, including the foods we eat and the toys our babies put into their mouths.

According to a recent news article:

"In the U.S., industrial chemicals are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Passed in 1976, the law requires companies to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for permission to use new chemicals. But companies do not have to test for potential health hazards, or provide any proof that the compound isn't hazardous.

Since the law passed, more than 82,000 chemicals have been registered with the EPA; environmental health scientist Michael Wilson says only a few thousand have received careful vetting. "The great majority of chemicals in common use have not been adequately studied for their effects on human health," says Wilson, executive director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California, Berkeley. "The big picture is that there's a complete lack of basic public health information"....

Critics of TSCA say hundreds of chemicals - compounds commonly used in detergents, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, sunscreens, food packaging, and many other products - may pose serious human health risks. They say this is particularly true of chemicals, including BPA, introduced before TSCA took effect in 1979. Such compounds received a waiver, and are automatically assumed to be safe."

Santa, we need your help.

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