Featured Do-Gooder: EWG & The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act Project

From time to time Smart Family Tips will feature an organization that is a “Do-Gooder”: a group that works to help both people and the environment. The Do-Gooders may be companies, nonprofits, or any organized group that focuses its efforts on making the world a better place.

This is the second in a series of posts about the Environmental Working Group. Today’s focus is their Kid-Safe Chemicals Act Project. I posted EWG’s 10 Americans video two weeks ago and hope some of you had a chance to watch it. If not, you can find it here.

Why do we need a Kid-Safe Chemicals Act?

According to the EWG, “Babies are born pre-polluted with as many as 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies when they enter the world.” EWG has done extensive testing on a range of people and has identified 455 chemicals in our bodies. The consequences of all of these chemicals in our systems is yet unknown. But there seems to be a direct connection between the introduction of thousands of new chemicals into the products we use, and are exposed to everyday, and the increase in serious diseases.

How has this happened?

The Toxic Substances Control Act, which was first passed in 1976, immediately deemed safe some 62,000 chemicals with virtually no data to confirm this. Since then, another 20,000 chemicals have been introduced — again with little to no data confirming their safety. The TSCA has not been amended since its inception. Currently, under federal law, chemicals do not have to be proven safe to enter or stay in the consumer market. EWG cites the ramifications of the current law: “neither manufacturers nor the EPA are required to prove a chemical’s safety as a condition of use.”

How can this be fixed?

With the Kids Safe Chemicals Act as a start. The Act will involve a “fundamental overhaul of our nation’s chemical regulatory law.” From EWG’s website

Specifically, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act:

  • requires that industrial chemicals be safe for infants, kids and other vulnerable groups;
  • requires that new chemicals be safety tested before they are sold;
  • requires chemical manufacturers to test and prove that the 62,000 chemicals already on the market that have never been tested are safe in order for them to remain in commerce;
  • requires EPA to review “priority” chemicals, those which are found in people, on an expedited schedule;
  • requires regular biomonitoring to determine what chemicals are in people and in what amounts;
  • requires regular updates of health and safety data and provides EPA with clear authority to request additional information and tests;
  • provides incentives for manufacturers to further reduce health hazards;
  • requires EPA to promote safer alternatives and alternatives to animal testing;
  • protects state and local rights; and
  • requires that this information be publicly available.

What can we, as individuals, do?

One thing that was underscored by last week’s Do-Gooder, WE ADD UP, is that each person counts. It’s easy to think, “I’m only one person, what can I do?” but it’s one person and then another and then another. . . We really do add up. If enough of us tell our elected officials in Washington that we want stronger chemical regulation and testing, it will happen.

photo credit: www.ewg.org/kidsafe