New Chemical Safety Bill Must be Amended to Reduce Cancer Risk
A statement by Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo
For Immediate Release: May 30, 2013
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, firstname.lastname@example.org or Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, email@example.com
The Chemical Safety Improvement Act, introduced last week by Senators David Vitter and Frank Lautenberg, fails to protect people from toxic chemicals linked to disease and jeopardizes the ability of future generations to enjoy healthy lives. The Breast Cancer Fund opposes the legislation in its current form, and calls on senators from both sides of the aisle to support amendments that transform it into a bill that the American people deserve: a robust defense of the right of people to live free from contamination by toxic chemicals.
This attempt to reform the woefully outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has some serious flaws that must be addressed to make sure that people are protected from toxic chemicals that contribute to breast cancer and a host of other diseases and chronic health problems.
Strengthening the bill would require amendments in these areas:
1. The legislation must respect the right of states to protect their residents if the federal government fails to do so or is slow to act.
2. It must go much further to protect scientific integrity from undue industry influence.
3. It must allow for the Environmental Protection Agency to take fast action on the worst chemicals.
4. It must protect the most vulnerable among us, including pregnant women, children, workers and communities disproportionately exposed to chemical exposures.
5. The legislation should require that the public has access to information regarding the safety of chemicals; that the onus is on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate chemicals are safe before they are allowed to enter the marketplace; and that the federal government invest in developing safer alternatives to toxic chemicals.
By addressing these key issues, the legislation has the potential to enhance chemical safety and indeed improve the lives of Americans. Anything less is not a meaningful reform of a system so deeply flawed that, under current TSCA law, the Environmental Protection Agency has tested only 200 of the 84,000 chemicals used in commerce and has only banned or regulated five chemicals in almost 40 years.
Three major federal reports have been written in the last two years calling for the overhaul of the EPA chemicals management system, along with countless other assessments demanding action. It is clearly time for Congress to act. Specifically, we urge the bill sponsors to read a February 2013 federal advisory committee report that finds that identifying and eliminating environmental causes of breast cancer, which kills 40,000 women every year, is the best opportunity to reduce incidence of the disease. In addition, the committee called for reform of TSCA, including establishing safety standards that protect human health, requiring safety reviews of new chemicals by manufacturers, and taking action on chemicals known or found to be toxic. The CSIA does not give the EPA adequate authority to do any of these things.
We agree that chemical policy reform is an area ripe for bipartisan agreement, but not at the expense of continuing to expose children and pregnant women to chemicals found in everything from couches to cleaning products.
The Breast Cancer Fund is committed to making this legislation as strong as it can be. Our constituents, located in every state of the country, are waiting to be mobilized. We’ll work for them and for the millions of people who for many years have raised their voices to say that we will no longer accept ingesting, inhaling and absorbing toxic chemicals as the price of living in the modern world—that our government has the responsibility to protect us. Our health is simply too precious to risk.
The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals linked to the disease. www.breastcancerfund.org