Toxics Across America

Who Makes the Billions of Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Flowing Through the U.S. Economy Each Year

A new report by EDF, Toxics Across America [PDF], tallies billions of pounds of chemicals in the American marketplace that are known or strongly suspected to cause increasingly common disorders, including certain cancers, developmental disabilities, and infertility.

Our new report looks at 120 chemicals that have been identified by multiple federal, state and international officials as known or suspected health hazards. Using the latest, albeit limited, data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we identify which of these chemicals are in commerce in the U.S.; in what amounts they are being made; which companies are producing or importing them; where they are being produced or imported; and how they are being used.

An interactive online map accompanying the report lets the user access the report's data and search by chemical, by company, by state, and by location.

Among the report's key findings:

  • At least 81 of the chemicals on the list are produced or imported to the US annually in amounts of one million pounds or more.
  • At least 14 exceed one billion pounds produced or imported annually, including carcinogens such as formaldehyde and benzene, and the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA).
  • More than 90 chemicals on the list are found in consumer and commercial products. At least eight are used in children's products.

Most Americans assume that somebody is regulating these chemicals to make sure we're safe. In fact, thanks to gaping loopholes in federal law, officials are virtually powerless to limit even chemicals — such as those featured in our report — we know or have good reason to suspect are dangerous. Because none of us has the power to avoid them on our own, we need stronger safeguards that protect us from the biggest risks and give companies that use these chemicals a reason to look for better alternatives.

The good news is that Congress is working on bipartisan legislation that — if done right — would require greater evidence of safety for both chemicals already in use and new chemicals before they enter the market. And by driving development of and access to more chemical safety data, it would give not only government but also product makers and consumers much more of the information they need to identify and avoid dangerous chemicals, and strengthen incentives to develop safer alternatives.

Time for change

Americans are exposed to an untold a number of chemicals every day, and almost none of them have ever been adequately tested for safety. Our primary chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is badly broken and hasn’t been updated since 1976—almost 40 years. EDF is working with key policymakers and stakeholders to make a smarter, stronger law that better protects you and your family.

Join more than 105,000 EDF members who have voiced their support for safer chemicals in household products. By signing up, you can be part of the solution.

Read our privacy policy.