TSCA Reform Isn't

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A House subcommittee will be holding hearings this week on a bill to "reform" the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, the federal law regulating chemicals, and ACSH staffers worry that the new measure goes too far.

"Of course the implication in the new bill is that chemicals we have now are toxic, we've been poisoning people and something must be done about it — even though there's no scientific evidence to even suggest this," says Dr. Ross.

For instance, the measure aims to reduce Americans' exposure to chemicals that are "persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic" — but Dr. Ross says those terms are often conflated by anti-chemical activists and politicians. Just because a chemical is one doesn't mean it's the other.

"Whenever we read stories about flame retardants, for instance, we always see that levels are increasing in our bodies and thus it must be toxic, so flame retardants must be banned and devil take the consequences," says Dr. Ross. "But the fact that they're bioaccumulative does not mean that they're toxic; there's never been any data showing that."

"It's just an anti-chemical law," scoffs Dr. Whelan. "It has no basis in science."

Dr. Ross says the problem is that people writing these laws have no grounding in toxicology or chemistry — something Stier hopes to change with an ACSH-backed Congressional Sound Science Caucus that he's working to get off the ground. With your support, we'll be able to hire the staff to create it.