Toxic Substances Control Act
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In the U.S., just a tiny fraction of the chemicals used in consumer products have been tested for human health effects. And with the current climate in Congress, it feels unlikely that we’ll see any true reform of the nation’s terribly outdated chemical safety rules anytime soon. In the meantime, scientist Thomas Hartung may have created the next best thing.
Today, Maine’s legislature held a hearing on the Toxic Chemicals in the Workplace Act, a proposal to require employers to identify harmful chemicals in the workplace and replace them with safer alternatives. It’s the perfect example of state action on behalf of worker safety and exactly the kind of measure that might no longer be possible under two congressional proposals aimed at overhauling the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.
For years, advocates have been calling on policymakers to reform the nation’s outdated chemical safety laws. Today, two such bills stand before Congress — one that advocates say better protects the public’s health and another that advocates warn is a dangerous step backward.
In the span of just a couple years, five of Heather Buren’s colleagues at the San Francisco Fire Department were diagnosed with breast cancer. At first, Buren thought the diagnoses were part of the unfortunate toll that comes with age. Still, something felt amiss — “it just felt so disproportionate to me,” she said.
In the wake of the WV water contamination, the public dialogue revolves around the need for more information and disclosure about the potential health effects of toxic chemicals. A newish OSHA regulation does just the opposite for workers exposed to chemical hazards.