New Report: Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products Increasingly Linked to Public Health Problems

Media Contacts
Jennifer Kim

NJPIRG Law and Policy Center

TRENTON, April 1, 2011- Serious health problems – including premature birth, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, asthma and allergies, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, reduced fertility, and some types of cancer – are increasingly linked with exposure to chemicals that can interfere with the process of growth and development, according to Growing Up Toxic — a new report released today by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

The new report reviews data from more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers in detailing the effects that toxic chemicals can have on the development of children from before birth to adulthood. Over and over again, new toxic chemical compounds have been introduced into commerce, with their health effects discovered only later. The report also points out the barriers built into the U.S. chemical regulatory systems that prevent meaningful action to protect the public.

“From before they are born, kids are exposed repeatedly to toxic chemicals — in the toys they play with, the carpets they learn to crawl on and the food they eat,” said NJPIRG Advocate Jen Kim. “Our homes should not be hazardous to our health.  We need common sense laws to protect us from toxic chemicals by requiring that chemicals be tested before they are on the market instead of waiting until the evidence is overwhelming that they’re accumulating at toxic levels in our bodies and the bodies of our children.”

NJPIRG calls for reform of U.S. chemicals policy that takes immediate action on the most dangerous chemicals, holds manufacturers responsible for ensuring the safety of their chemicals and products before they are on the market, and uses the best science to protect public health.

“We could reduce the incidence of childhood cancers, breast cancer, and asthma dramatically by taking common-sense steps, like giving the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to step in quickly when it has reason to believe a chemical is unsafe,” said Kim. “Congress must put public health priorities ahead of the special interests of the chemical lobby.”




Background information

There is growing agreement across the political spectrum that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 does not adequately protect Americans from toxic chemicals. In the 35 years since TSCA was enacted, the EPA has been able to require testing on just 200 of the more than 83,000 chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and just five chemicals have been regulated under this law. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has asked Congress to provide her agency with better chemical management tools for safeguarding our nation’s health. Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) has signaled his intention to re-introduce the Safe Chemicals Act this year to reform TSCA.

Released almost a year ago, the 2010 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.” [i]



[i] i U.S. National Cancer Institute, President’s Cancer Panel, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now, April 2010.