New Chemical Legislation Ready for Action

Support expressed from all sides.

Published on: Apr 16, 2010
A plan has been formulated for reform of the nation's chemical laws, a 34-year-old set of regulations that all players agree is outmoded and ineffective. Legislation written by Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., would require manufacturers to prove the safety of chemicals before they enter the marketplace. That would be a significant departure from current laws, which allow chemicals to be used unless the federal government can prove they cause harm to health or the environment.

The bill would also mandate that manufacturers submit health and safety data to the EPA for 84,000 chemicals now in use. The agency would review the information to determine whether the chemicals are safe enough to remain on the market. Under current laws, the government cannot act unless a chemical poses a health threat, but EPA cannot force companies to provide data that show risks.

The bill would make it significantly easier for the EPA to restrict or ban chemicals that are known hazards. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called the legislation a major step forward. Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, says they're certainly not going to be an obstruction and are committed to being constructively engaged in their efforts to move this legislation forward. Linda Fisher, vice president of safety, health and the environment at DuPont, called the bill a good starting point.