Landmark Chemical Safety Legislation Introduced to Protect Kids

May 20, 2008



Contact:  Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,
    Richard Denison,
(Washington, DC – May 20, 2008)  New legislation to protect children from dangerous chemicals – the Kid Safe Chemicals Act of 2008, introduced by U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) and U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) – received strong support today from a leading national environmental group as a long-overdue reform of U.S. chemicals policy.
“More than 30 years after the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act, at last we have a serious effort to bring U.S. chemicals policy into the 21st century,” said Dr. Richard A. Denison, a senior scientist for Environmental Defense Fund and author of Not That Innocent, a major report comparing U.S., European and Canadian chemicals policies. “Sadly, the United States has lagged behind in protecting human health and the environment from harm by hazardous chemicals. By modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act, this legislation would close the gap between the policies of the United States and those of many other developed countries.”
The Kid Safe Chemicals Act of 2008 would require manufacturers of all chemicals in commerce to develop a minimum set of data on the chemicals’ hazards, uses and exposure potential. It would also place the burden on manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their chemicals as a condition for entering or remaining on the market. Any uses of a chemical not shown to be safe would be prohibited.
“With rates of children’s diseases like autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, asthma, and cancer all increasing over the past three decades, it is essential that we more closely scrutinize all chemicals to which children may be exposed,” stated Dr. John M. Balbus, Chief Health Scientist for Environmental Defense Fund. “Bisphenol A, a chemical widely used in baby bottles and infant formula cans and suspected of harming early development, is only the latest example.”
In its landmark 1997 report Toxic Ignorance, Environmental Defense Fund sounded the alarm about the dearth of even basic safety data available on the great majority of chemicals present in the products and materials we encounter every day. 
“For too long we have granted chemicals in commerce a strong presumption of innocence,” said Denison. “One has only to look at how little we know about the growing list of chemicals being detected in our bodies and our environment to recognize that this continued ‘toxic ignorance’ must end.” 
“We are all exposed to large numbers of chemicals every day – and the more we look, the more chemicals we find in our surroundings.  We simply must require thorough testing and proof of safety,” Denison added. “The Kid Safe Chemicals Act would start us down this critical path.”
Denison also lauded the bill’s provisions to promote safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals and to advance green chemistry; to foster use of alternatives to animal testing where shown to be scientifically valid; to increase the reliability of and public access to chemical information; and to limit the ability of industry to claim such information as confidential business information.

“While some provisions of the bill will need further refinement to ensure its objectives are achieved, the basic framework is sound,” Denison concluded.  “We look forward to working to advance this legislation, which will give the Toxic Substances Control Act the major overhaul it needs.”