“Nevertheless, the rules outlining these prioritization and risk evaluation processes have been “significantly narrowed” under the Trump administration, excluding important “pathways of exposure” that leave vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children especially susceptible to harm, according to Eve Gartner, a litigator in the Healthy Communities Program at Earthjustice, an environmental organization currently litigating the TSCA roll-backs.”
SWAMP WATCH: Profits over people…..
- Modern life is awash with chemicals. They’re in our work places, our homes, our bedrooms, the clothes we wear, the water we drink, the paint on our walls, the products we clean with. They’re all around us. Indeed, roughly 30,000 pounds of chemicals are produced per person, per year in the US. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is a federal safety net that ensures these chemicals don’t cause harm to humans or the environment.At least it’s supposed to.
This act is the centerpiece of the nation’s table-display of chemical regulations, which include different laws governing food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides. For decades, however, TSCA was widely criticized by many environmental and consumer advocacy groups for being toothless—that it achieved very little in regulating the nation’s chemicals. This led to a major overhaul two years ago, and a revised TSCA signed into law near the end of the Obama administration, shepherding in a number of “important improvements.”
But as the new law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, continues to be rolled out under the Trump administration, critics point to recent modifications made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the way it evaluates and regulates chemicals, prioritizing industry concerns over human health and the environment. Sen. Tom Udall, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing EPA’s budget, has called implementation of the law a “remarkable disaster.”
Robert Sussman, a former EPA official and now a counsel for chemical reform organization Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, agrees. “I’d be hard-pressed to say that the actions of the EPA under the new law are more effective than its actions under the old law,” Sussman told Truthout. “Not much has improved, and we seem to be going backwards in a couple important areas.”
In a statement provided by the EPA on background, the agency denied the new TSCA has been diluted, and that any subsequent changes have followed the “original intent” of the Lautenberg Act.
A landmark legislation passed a little over 42 years ago, TSCA grandfathered in roughly 62,000 chemicals already in use without a proper framework for evaluating their potential risks. Over the subsequent years, thousands more chemicals were added to the inventory, which comprises all chemicals used in the US, whether they were manufactured in the US or shipped in from abroad. There are currently more than 85,000 listed on the inventory, though the EPA has identified about 37,000 in active use.