Much-Needed Legislation Would Protect Americans from Unsafe Chemicals

Media Contacts
Jenny Levin

Maryland Senators Mikulski and Cardin Cosponsor

Maryland PIRG

Washington, DC – Led by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), 29 senators today introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013. Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin are original cosponsors of the legislation to provide long overdue fixes to the nation’s broken chemical policies and limit the use of unsafe chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses.

Similar to a bill cleared by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the 112th Congress, the Safe Chemicals Act would go a long way toward protecting Americans from chemicals before they are linked to reproductive and developmental disorders, cancers and other illnesses that are costly to treat and often preventable. Specifically, it would:

  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify and restrict the “worst of the worst” chemicals.
  • Require basic health and safety information for chemicals as a condition for entering or remaining on the market.
  • Upgrade scientific methods for assessing chemical safety.
  • Arm the EPA with the authority it needs to restrict chemicals that pose health and environmental concerns.

A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the widespread use of chemicals in our society harms our health and the health of our children. The incidence of many serious health problems – including premature birth, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, asthma and allergies, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, reduced fertility, and some types of cancer – shows links with exposure to chemicals that can interfere with the process of growth and development.

“Our children are literally growing up toxic,” said Maryland PIRG Public Health Advocate Jenny Levin. “From the time they are conceived, children are bombarded with hundreds of chemicals known to cause cancer, learning disorders, asthma, and reproductive problems like early puberty and infertility. Our government is powerless to protect us; and with so many products using untested or undisclosed chemicals–or both–consumers are powerless to protect themselves. While science has advanced to better grasp the link between chemicals and disease, public policy has not kept up.”

In April 2010, the President‘s Cancer Panel – a group of three distinguished experts appointed by President Bush to evaluate the nation‘s cancer program – raised the alarm about our ubiquitous exposure to toxic chemicals.  The President‘s Cancer Panel noted that the true burden of disease induced by chemicals to which people are regularly exposed in their daily lives has been “grossly underestimated.” Diseases linked to chemical exposures, “needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation‘s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

“Maryland PIRG applauds our Senators for their co-sponsorship of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, a bill that would bring U.S. chemical safety into the 21st century,” concluded Levin.