Tuesday, February 23, 2010

America's Most Wanted Toxic Chemicals

by Andy Igriegas
Campaign Director, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Reposted with permission

One way we'll know that Congress is serious about reforming the nation's chemical laws is by how they address a group of extremely dangerous chemicals that are the equivalent of the FBI's "Most Wanted" list: Persistent, Bioaccumulative Toxins or PBTs.

Some of the most notorious chemicals ever studied are PBTs - lead, PCBs, DDT, dioxin mercury, and cadmium. Many PBTs, including flame retardants and the stain-resistant perfluorinated chemicals (like PFOA used to make Teflon), are still found in products we use every day in our homes and places of work.

Persistent, toxic chemicals build up in our bodies and are passed on to the next generation. This is especially troubling to parents like Molly Gray, who want their children to have safe, happy and healthy lives that are free of toxic chemicals that may harm their health.

Molly's concern for this issue is deeply personal. Molly was part of a study that tested pregnant women for toxic chemicals; their developing babies were exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy.

Molly thought she'd test chemical-free because in the five years before becoming pregnant, Molly had done everything she could to reduce her exposure to toxic chemicals, including eating organic food, choosing low-mercury fish and avoiding personal care products with phthalates and fragrances.

Instead, despite taking precautions leading up to her pregnancy, Molly learned she had the highest levels of mercury – a PBT – of all the women tested in the study. And she tested above the national average for other chemicals tested, including phthalates, BPA, flame retardants, and "Teflon" chemicals.

We helped get Molly and her seven-month-old son Paxton to Washington, DC so she could tell Congress that what we don't know about toxic chemicals is harming real people, right now.

Senator Frank Lautenberg, who will soon introduce legislation to update the nation's chemical safety law, expressed concern, saying, " … in essence, the American public has become a living, breathing repository for chemical substances. And when the chemicals…show up on our children's bodies, we have a potentially dangerous situation."

The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition agrees with Senator Lautenberg. We believe it should be a no-brainer for Congress to put PBTs on a pathway to phase-out when it reforms
the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Unfortunately, even no-brainer ideas have run into trouble recently, thanks to the lobbying efforts of the chemical industry. The chemical industry is trying to avoid action by convincing Congress that the right thing to do is to spend more years "studying" chemicals; chemicals that scientists have already shown to be notorious and dangerous.

Please write to your member of Congress to tell them that real TSCA reform will include taking immediate action to phase PBT chemicals out of commerce.

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