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Tinkering with Toxics Law Not Enough to Protect Public Health from Dangerous Chemicals

A statement by Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo

For Immediate Release: Monday, April 14 2014
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org

SAN FRANCISCO—In advance of an April 29 House Energy and Commerce Environment and the Economy Subcommittee hearing, Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., released a revised version of draft legislation to update the nation’s law governing toxic chemical use, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

But, according to Jeanne Rizzo, President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, the revised draft still fails to protect public health from chemicals linked to cancer.

“The latest version of TSCA reform being considered by the House of Representatives is fatally flawed because it weakens the already very weak protections of the current law.

While there has certainly been tinkering around the edges of the proposed legislation, it fails to set new rules for the chemical industry that would protect public health. Despite revisions by Chairman Shimkus, we remain concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not be given adequate authority to regulate chemicals. In this new draft, the chemical industry is left beyond the reach of government oversight. That’s not reform, that’s irresponsible.

The public is demanding safer chemicals and it’s time for Congress to deliver. It’s indisputable that exposure to toxic chemicals is linked to diseases, including breast cancer. A new law should protect people from chemicals that harm their health by ensuring that chemicals are proven safe before they are sold to the American people.

Congressional tinkering with TSCA has exposed how much power the chemical industry has over lawmakers. There is no other explanation for the reluctance of some lawmakers to put new controls on the industry to improve chemical safety. Instead, there is an unwavering commitment to preempting current state laws and future state action on chemicals, which is the centerpiece of the industry’s agenda for “reforming” TSCA.

Retailers and manufacturers are moving away from using the most dangerous chemicals and creating new standards to ensure their products are safe. States have passed laws to protect young children from toxic dangers. Yet Congress is still figuring out how to appease the chemical industry with regulations that are actually worse than the worthless law on the books that fails to protect people from dangerous chemicals.

While we understand the challenges of crafting a new law, a core principle must be that we cannot negotiate with the public’s health. It is the paramount issue. To retain any semblance of leadership on this issue, Congress is going to have to get serious about creating a new, stronger law that prioritizes public health and chemical safety.”

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The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.