ACOEM Supports Act Requiring EPA Safety Review of Chemicals Used in Commerce

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Newswise — The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), has expressed its support for the introduction of S.1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), legislation that would for the first time require that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review the safety of all chemicals in commerce.

In a July 25 letter to Senator David Vitter (R-LA), the College applauded the Senator and the other bi-partisan group of Senators for introducing this legislation which would modernize and fix the significant flaw in the current Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that allows the majority of chemicals on the market today to be grandfathered in without any evidence of their safety.

The TSCA currently does not require specific consideration of the effects of chemicals on vulnerable populations, such as children. The CSIA would give the EPA the tools to protect the entire nation’s health if a chemical is found to be unsafe. These tools include giving the EPA the authority to take safety measures that range from requiring labels to completely banning the use of a chemical. It would also require the EPA to evaluate the risks posed to children and pregnant women when determining whether a chemical is safe.

“This legislation takes a common sense approach to enforcement by evaluating all chemicals in current commercial use and labeling them either “high” or “low” priority based on their potential environmental and health risks,” wrote ACOEM President Ronald Loeppke, MD. “This approach means that the EPA will be placing greater scrutiny on the chemicals that might actually be harmful, while streamlining the approval path for those that are safe….and implement[ing] a process for the review of new chemicals.”

The College also urged strengthening of certain aspects of the bill, including ensuring that safety determinations really do protect vulnerable populations from exposure; setting deadlines to direct EPA to initiate and complete actions; and increasing EPA’s ability to address disproportionately high exposures to chemicals in some communities.

In response to ACOEM’s letter, the College was asked to testify at the July 31 Senate hearing on S.1009. Dr. Jonathan Borak represented ACOEM at the hearing which was held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

ACOEM, an organization of more than 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

For more information, contact Pat O’Connor, ACOEM Director of Government Affairs, at 202-223-6222.


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