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Safe Chemicals Act Moves in Senate, Setting Stage for Meaningful Chemical Reform

A statement by Nancy Buermeyer, Senior Policy Strategist, Breast Cancer Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 25, 2012
CONTACT: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sent the Safe Chemicals Act to the full Senate, setting the stage for a Senate-wide vote. The committee vote represents the first time in almost 40 years that the Senate is taking action to overhaul the woefully broken system that regulates toxic chemicals in this country. It shows that lawmakers are finally heeding the public outcry over a system that allows products we use every day to contain toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer and other diseases. It marks a turning point in our collective efforts to change our chemical management system to one that prioritizes public health and safety over industry concerns and interests.

The Safe Chemicals Act will reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has not been updated since it passed in 1976 despite enormous advances in our scientific understanding of the connection between chemicals and disease. Under TSCA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has only been able to require safety testing for 200 of the 62,000 chemicals that were in commerce when the law originally passed, and has banned or restricted only five of the over 84,000 chemicals in use today. The Safe Chemicals Act will go a long way toward fixing this broken system that fails to protect the public.

The Breast Cancer Fund, along with our allies in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, have worked tirelessly to reform TSCA, and are heartened by the Senate committee vote. We’re thankful for the strong leadership of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who authored and champions the bill. We’re also grateful to Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who skillfully brought the bill to a successful vote.

Everyone from the EPA to firefighters to the chemical industry itself has weighed in on the need to reform TSCA. Now it’s up to the full Senate to show leadership and quickly pass the Safe Chemicals Act. The American public is owed nothing less.

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The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer. www.breastcancerfund.org