TSCA "reform": Looking for toxics in all the wrong places

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It's that time of year, the season when "reform" of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) rises from the ashes, and stroller brigades and anti-technology "environmental" groups remind us that without a new chemical law, the sky will fall again.

The main proponent of this annual silliness is the 88-year old senior (literally) Senator from New Jersey, Democrat Frank Lautenberg. Each year for the past 5 he has tried to get his "Kid Safe Chemical Act" through the Environment and Public Works Committee, and each year his vote count diminishes but not his amazing drive and unyielding optimism. He would be well advised to save his energies for other crusades.

Why? The main attack on TSCA is that it was enacted in 1976, and therefore needs to be revised, amended, improved. Even the chemical industry and their trade group, the American Chemistry Council, at least pays lip service to this goal. But why fix what ain't broke? The activist groups crying out for TSCA reform point out that many more chemicals have arisen since 1976, and that the law only required the EPA to evaluate 255 chemicals over these decades, of which only 5 were restricted or banned.

They don't seem to realize that the obvious message is simply this: the chemicals in our stream of commerce, consumer products, and even the minute levels present in our bodies are not a threat to our health, nor to the environment. Further, the calls for new chemical laws ignore the fact that before a substance or chemical can come to market, it must undergo intensive scrutiny by the EPA, both within and outside the dictates of TSCA. That's why, despite the pervasive fear of chemicals whipped up by activist groups, lawyers (and Erin Brokovich-types), and the media, there are no verifiable instances of chemical-induced illness in our country. So let's let the Senator have his day he is going to retire next year, after all and leave TSCA alone.

For more information about this subject, you can read ACSH s publication here.