Thursday, July 14, 2011

US Senators Propose Banning Chemicals of High Concern Due to Endocrine Disruption

Senators John Kerry and Jim Moran, both Democrats, have introduced legislation that would effectively ban certain uses of chemicals found to pose a high concern for endocrine disruption.  The bill, called the Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Exposure Elimination Act, would establish a research program to determine if candidate chemicals are endocrine disruptors, then ask an expert panel to rank them as either "high," "substantial," "minimal," or "no" concern.  The bill would require this panel to assess up to ten chemicals per year.  It would also require an exposure reduction strategy for those deemed to be of high concern.

The bill comes as Congress has seemingly reached a stalemate on how to proceed with reform of the 35-year old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced the latest version of his Safe Chemicals Act earlier this year, and while at least one in a series of non-public stakeholder meetings have been held to fine-tune the bill, no obvious path forward on passage appears to be in the works.  Likewise, it is unclear what chances the Kerry/Moran bill will have in passage given the clear lack of any action being taken by the Republican-controlled House.

According to Kerry's press release:

Today, there are approximately 80,000 known chemicals in our environment that are potentially harmful, yet many of these chemicals are not tested to determine their effects on human health. This includes common products Americans use every day such as household cleaners, cosmetics or personal care products.  There is an increased rate of disorders affecting the human endocrine system, which children developing in the womb are particularly vulnerable to.

In introducing the bill, Senator Kerry noted that:

“We have a responsibility not just to inform Americans of the dangers, but to protect them from chemicals with the potential to cause serious illnesses from birth defects to cancer. It’s just common sense.”

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