Center for Progressive Reform Scholar Sidney Shapiro and Asbestos Disease Awareness Association President Linda Reinstein published a piece in Mint Press News on toxic chemical reform legislation.
Imagine a chemical that every public health organization in the United States and around the world knows to cause cancer and a host of other illnesses. You might think that such a chemical would probably be banned from commercial use in the United States, or at least not allowed to be used in a host of commercial products that people use every day. But think again.
According to the U.S. surgeon general, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to asbestos is unsafe at any level, but the substance still used in the U.S. in automobile brake pads, vinyl floor tiles and many other commercial goods. Despite its dangers, the EPA is powerless in regulating it, and 30 people across the country die needlessly from asbestos-related diseases every single day.
Because the federal law governing toxic chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is woefully inadequate, the EPA’s attempt to ban asbestos was overturned in court. In fact, of the 80,000 chemicals in commercial use, only five have been banned, even though many — like asbestos — can be very dangerous. The problem is that the Toxic Substances Control Act requires the EPA to prove that a chemical is dangerous before regulating it, rather than requiring manufacturers to establish the safety of potentially lethal products before they are marketed. Since the EPA is usually forced to rely on manufacturers for safety data about chemicals, if the manufacturer doesn’t produce data demonstrating a chemical’s danger, the EPA has no information upon which to act.
To read the entire piece click here.