Newsroom: Press Releases
Sen. Lautenberg Introduces "Safe Chemicals Act of 2011"
Lautenberg Launches Video on Facebook & Twitter to Kick Off Chemical Safety Reform Push
Lautenberg Press Office, 202-224-3224
Thursday, April 14,
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced updated legislation to modernize the “Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976” (TSCA) and protect Americans from exposure to dangerous toxins. Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, seeks to require – for the first time – that chemical manufacturers demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals used in everyday household products.
Senator Lautenberg launched a video on his Facebook and Twitter pages to build support for chemical safety reform and his “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.” Watch it here.
“The average American has more than 200 industrial chemicals in their body, including dozens linked to cancer and other health problems. The shocking truth is that the current law does not require tests to ensure chemicals used in everyday household products are safe,” said Senator Lautenberg. “The EPA does not have the tools to address dangerous substances and even the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws to assure consumers that their products are safe. My 'Safe Chemicals Act' will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to separate the chemicals that help from the chemicals that hurt.”
Lautenberg’s “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” would require safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order to get on or stay on the market. Under current policy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can only call for safety testing after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances. The new legislation will give EPA more power to regulate the use of dangerous chemicals and require manufacturers to submit information proving the safety of every chemical in production and any new chemical seeking to enter the market.
After introducing similar legislation last year, Senator Lautenberg chaired a series of hearings to solicit feedback from chemical industry leaders, public officials, scientists, doctors, academics, and non-profit organizations. Based on that feedback, Senator Lautenberg made several changes to improve the bill. For example, the updated bill establishes risk-based prioritization categories so that the EPA can focus its resources on the highest-risk chemicals. It also requires chemical companies to initially submit basic hazard and exposure data to quickly determine the risk and assess the need for further testing or restrictions.
The “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” comports with the reform principles laid out by the Obama Administration, the American Chemistry Council and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition. In addition, public health groups, environmentalists, industry representatives and the EPA have all expressed support for reforms to our nation’s toxic substance laws.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
The text of the bill can be found here and a full summary of the bill can be found here.
Highlights of the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011”
Provides EPA with sufficient information to judge a chemical’s safety. Requires manufacturers to develop and submit a minimum data set for each chemical they produce, while also preventing duplicative or unnecessary testing and encouraging the use of rapid, low-cost, non-animal tests that provide high quality data. EPA will have full authority to request additional information needed to determine the safety of a chemical.
Prioritizes chemicals based on risk. Calls on the EPA to categorize chemicals based on risk, and focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm.
Takes fast action to address highest risk chemicals. Requires EPA to take fast action to reduce risk from chemicals that have already been proven dangerous. In addition, the EPA Administrator is given authority to act quickly if any chemical poses an imminent hazard.
Ensures safety threshold is met for all chemicals on the market. Places the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to prove the safety of their chemicals. All uses must be identified and determined safe for the chemical to enter the market or continue to be used.
Creates open access to reliable chemical information. Establishes a public database to catalog the chemical information submitted to the EPA by manufacturers, as well as the safety determinations made by the EPA. The EPA will impose requirements to ensure the information collected is reliable.
Promotes innovation and development of green chemistry. Establishes grant programs and research centers to foster the development of safe chemical alternatives, and brings some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.
Return to Press Releases