Toxic Substances Control Act to Improve, Increase Safety Standards
A critical divide exists between what constitutes a toxin and what level regulation should take place. An update to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act hopes to ensure that Americans have access to safer household products.
After 40 years of stagnancy, President Obama is expected to sign a bill into law that would bring much needed change to toxic-chemical regulation in our country. The House approved the bill last month and the Senate followed suit this week. The reform legislation, which will update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, has now been sent to the Oval Office for review.
There has always been a divide with what constitutes a toxin and at what level regulation should take place. An ongoing conversation and implementation has effectively been stalled in both parties (for nearly 40 years!), leaving room for companies to sell Americans large household products like mattresses and carpet – down to everyday items like food containers and baby teethers – without oversight of the chemicals that are used to produce them.
The bill aims at requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate new and existing chemicals (think formaldehyde, asbestos, and Bisphenol A or BPA) against new, risk-based, and more timely safety standards. Many toxic chemicals that are found in our everyday products have gone unregulated for decades; currently, only a small percentage of chemicals used in consumer goods have been reviewed and tested for safety before being made available for widespread use. New standards set by the legislation will take into consideration populations that are particularly vulnerable, such as children and pregnant women. The new legislation will also require written deadlines for the EPA in the hopes of more timely action to review, regulate, and ban toxic chemicals. Additionally, the bill is expected to make it more difficult for industry groups to remain secretive about chemical information in their products.
While it all sounds promising and productive, there is a conflicted response to the proposed law.
Opponents say it falls short
Consumers worked hard to get this legislation introduced, but are facing the reality that it falls short of truly protecting consumers from thousands of harmful chemicals that have been linked to serious illnesses such as cancer, infertility, birth defects, diabetes and nervous system disorders. They argue that more can be done. There is no doubt that a new bill is better than the current law, but it doesn’t come close to what consumers need to stay safe.
Supporters believe it is a step in the right direction
Public health and safety in our country continues to go underfunded, especially in the midst of a divisive election year. There’s hope that this legislation will bring clarity and continuity across the board to the current haphazard system of regulation among states. This bill also showed Americans that, despite their differences, these two entities will work together to bridge a divide when it comes to something as important as the health and safety of individuals.
While federal guidelines are being developed in accordance with the bill (a process that can take up to seven years!), the legislation allows states to work on their own regulation. Many liberal-leaning states such as California, Massachusetts and Vermont already have tough rules around toxic chemicals and manufacturing, while other, more conservative states tend to be more lax.
Continued consumer pressure and calls on social media, which has made waves in veering toy and furniture manufacturers toward less toxic material in their products, will really be the determinant of how and which chemicals remain in commerce.
Pure Living works hard to ensure that you and your family are provided with the safest, high-quality products on the market. We work with small, but nimble companies, who exceed safety standards not because they must, but because they know it is the right thing to do. We also have a team of parents and parents-to-be who do the hard work to ensure we only carry clean, safe and non-toxic products.
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