April 15th isn't usually a day revered by Americans. Many of us will spend today rushing to finalize tax forms and fighting the annual crowd at the post office. But this April 15th, we have a lot to celebrate.
Today, legislation was introduced that will, for the first time in more than 30 years, overhaul the way the federal government protects the public from toxic chemicals. The Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 was introduced in the United States Congress this afternoon by U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ). "America's system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken," said Senator Lautenberg. "Parents are afraid because hundreds of untested chemicals are found in their children's bodies. EPA does not have the tools to act on dangerous chemicals and the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws so that their customers are assured their products are safe. My 'Safe Chemicals Act' will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals." The "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" requires safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order stay on the market. As a company whose products have been built from the ground up to protect both the health of the planet as well as the people who use them, I am thrilled to finally see the introduction of legislation that would update our antiquated system of toxic chemical regulation.
The Toxics Substance Control Act, which became law 34 years ago, was meant to give the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to identify and regulate dangerous chemicals in products that we use every day. However, of the more than 80,000 chemicals used in consumer products, the EPA has required testing of about only 200 and restricted the use of only 5 chemicals! The current law is widely regarded as being ineffective. With an increasing focus on toxic chemical exposure in humans, and a new report showing newborn babies with traces of 287 toxic chemicals in their blood at birth, the time for action is now. This new legislation will go a long way towards bringing our failing chemical management system into the 21st Century. It puts our health first, provides better information to businesses, and helps the average consumer avoid toxic chemicals in the products that they buy. Although this legislation is not perfect, it contains many of the key provisions that we and our partners in the Safer Chemicals Health Families coalition have been working for. The coalition will be working hard to continue to strengthen the bill as it moves through the legislative process.
We understand that there is a business case for TSCA reform. Leading companies from electronics manufacturers to health care providers are highly motivated to identify and use safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. Today's business leaders are concerned about the health and business impacts that could arise if the products they use or sell contain toxic chemicals. They recognize that safer chemicals protect human and environmental health and cut the costs of regulation, hazardous waste storage and disposal, worker protection, and future liabilities. Such steps also offer new business opportunities, by making U.S. businesses more competitive in a global marketplace and creating new jobs. So, I encourage you to join us in pushing for this landmark legislation.
Together we as consumers, businesses, environmentalists, and public health advocates can ensure the products we buy and sell are free of harmful toxic chemicals. Take action and send a message to Washington, DC to support reform of our outdated chemicals control policy, and please join the Million Baby Crawl to add your voice to a growing movement of people calling for safer chemicals and healthier families.