GroundTruth Blog

Lawmakers tackle persistent chemicals - yay!

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by Kristin Schafer

Earth with kid

Today we are one step closer to protecting kids in this country — and around the globe — from persistent chemicals.

A group of senators proposed a new law this week to revamp our 35-year-old system of managing toxic chemicals. Our friends in Washington tell us this version of the bill is stronger than the attempt that stalled in Congress last year. How very refreshing to have good news coming out of DC!

Everyone agrees our old system of managing chemicals is badly broken and in need of fundamental overhaul. Evidence continues to mount that our everyday overexposure to toxic chemicals is causing serious problems, from cancer to Parkinson's to ADHD.

The urgent question for those tracking this policy gap has been twofold: what a new, better system would look like, and how to make it a priority on Capitol Hill.

The Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition — a growing national network of more than 280 groups (including PAN) — has been working hard to get lawmakers to take strong action on toxic chemicals. Here's Andy Igrejas, the coalitions' Director, on why we need reform:

The whole world has woken up to the ragged holes in our federal safety net for chemicals. We need a new law to put commonsense limits on toxic chemicals both to protect American families, and to give a leg up to American firms in a world market that increasingly demands safer products.

Here at PAN we're especially pleased to learn that the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, proposed by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey with several co-sponsors, directs EPA to take quick action on persistent, bioaccumulative toxins, or "PBTs". This group of chemicals builds up in our bodies and passes from one generation to the next during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Getting our house in order on PBTs will bring us one step closer to joining the 173  countries already implementing the global POPs treaty, which is designed to phase out the worst (traveling variety) of these PBT chemicals worldwide. When members of the treaty gather in Geneva later this month the U.S. will, once again, be watching from the sidelines.

Kristin Schafer's blog

is PAN's Program & Policy Director. Follow @KristinAtPAN

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