Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Polling Data Indicates Overwhelming Public Support for Chemicals Regulation

My title is cribbed from the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (SCHF) announcement of a new poll conducted by the Mellman Group.  According to SCHF, the public opinion poll "finds overwhelming public support for reforming our out-of-date system for managing chemicals."  Furthermore, this support apparently was "regardless of political affiliation," in that "voters are much more likely to support a candidate for public office who promotes better health and safety standards for chemicals."

I haven't read the entire poll yet, but the results SCHF reports are actually somewhat surprising.  Despite the current political environment that seems to favor less government intervention, and at least according to SCHF, there is widespread concern about our exposure to chemicals:
The majority of respondents said they think the threat posed by everyday exposure to toxic chemicals is serious (73%, with 33% saying it is "very serious"). 78% said that the threat posed to children by exposure to everyday toxic chemicals is “serious.” (45% called the threat “very serious.”)
Not surprising, however, is that the poll also seems to suggest that the public looks unfavorably on the chemical industry, with 45% of the public viewing the industry in a bad light.  That pretty much is status quo for the chemical industry, who despite their stewardship efforts are often seen as the bad guys (usually when some chemical is in the news or we find out it is in the blood stream of babies).

All of this plays out in a time when it is likely nothing will happen with TSCA reform this year.  With only a handful of actual legislative days left on the calendar, and a lot of incumbents facing their most challenging reelection bids ever, Congress is in no hurry to pass a bill.  So that 74% of the public that supports stronger controls on "toxic chemicals" will have to wait until at least next year.  And with Congress likely to look a lot different when it gets sworn in next January, the fate of TSCA reform could range from a bill that is workable to no bill at all.

A PDF of the poll can be seen here or on the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families web site.

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