Green Buckeye RN

ANA Capitol Update: State Actions Shed Light on Need for Federal Chemicals Policy Reform
September 10, 2009, 9:52 am
Filed under: News

There is an urgent need for U.S. chemicals policy reform.  Widespread exposure to toxic substances is a result of an ineffective federal statute, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), that allows for minimal, if any, safety testing before entering or remaining on the market.  ANA and CMAs are actively working within large and diverse coalitions to advocate for state and federal government actions that will effectively protect public health.  These actions include:  reduction in the use of toxic chemicals, requiring that safer alternatives be used whenever possible; mechanisms for labeling and full disclosure; adequate information on the health effects before market introduction; and a more streamlined method for toxic chemicals to be removed from use.

To this point, state legislatures have introduced and enacted bills on a resource intensive chemical by chemical basis.  One of many examples is Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used in everyday products such as water bottles, baby bottles, pacifiers, plastic utensils, toys, and certain microwaveable containers. BPA has been detected in children and pregnant women and their fetuses across the US.  It is considered an endocrine disruptor even at very low doses and subsequently linked to reproductive damage, birth defects and a number of chronic diseases.  In 2009, Chicago, three of the largest counties in NY, Connecticut,  and Minnesota have passed legislation banning BPA in children’s cups and baby bottles.

Recognizing the health threat, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), unanimously passed a momentous resolution that endorses broad chemicals policy reform, affirming the organization’s support of aggressive, progressive changes to TSCA.  This is a powerful signal for reform as NCSL resolutions guide Capitol Hill lobbying efforts on behalf of all state legislatures.  Among other actions, the resolution calls on Congress to reform TSCA by including provisions that would place the proof of safety on chemical manufacturers, act to regulate harmful chemicals first, and promote safer alternatives to toxic chemicals.

The NCSL resolution and BPA legislation send a clear message that exposure to toxic chemicals is unnecessary.  Despite massive lobbying efforts of the chemical industry, the movement to create an effective policy that protects children and all citizens from harm continues to strengthen.

Rebecca Clouse, MS, RN


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