KSCA Would “Change the Paradigm” to Protect Kids’ Health

The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act will help protect children against toxic chemicals. Photo: © Quavondo_iStockPhoto

“There is growing agreement across the political spectrum that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 does not adequately protect Americans from toxic chemicals. In the 34 years since TSCA was enacted, the EPA has been able to require testing on just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and just five chemicals have been regulated under this law.” — Safer Chemicals

When it was enacted in 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) automatically assumed that some 62,000 chemicals were safe, even though their effects on humans had never even been tested. Equally scary, as each new chemical is introduced, the burden of proof rests on the EPA to show that a chemical is hazardous in order to restrict its use — and that, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “rarely happens.”

If enacted, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act (KSCA) would change the process of approving chemicals for the marketplace in several significant ways. According to CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in a recent television broadcast, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) will soon reintroduce the bill proposing KSCA, which would change “the paradigm from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent, in the sense that [a chemical] has to be tested before it can actually come to market.”

Children in industrialized nations have about 200 chemicals in their blood before birth. Photo: © Jason Stitt - Fotolia.com

As Gupta points out, pesticides and pharmaceuticals are “already treated that way. And, at least with respect to kids, they want to be sure that any new potential exposures out there are tested for health effects before they ever come to market.”

Research sponsored by EWG has shown more than 200 chemicals present in unborn children’s blood — many of them carcinogens, hormone disrupters, and neurotoxins. Children’s health should not be held hostage to industry and the profits of big business. It’s well past time for the US Congress to enact legislation that truly protects children (and adults) from toxic chemicals in the products we manufacture and use. We need KSCA to replace TSCA with stronger guidelines for protecting children and unborn babies from toxic chemicals.

With Lautenberg’s support, children’s health advocates are hopeful that KSCA will finally pass. But the path to becoming law may not be easy. KSCA was first introduced in Congress in 2005 and re-introduced again in 2008. It faced tough opposition and was defeated each time.

Get Informed

To assure that KSCA gets passed in 2010, we must tell our legislators to support it. The first step in making a persuasive argument is to learn the facts.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals. Photo: © Suprijono Suharjoto - Fotolia.com

One way to do that is to read about the bill on the Environmental Working Group website. The site provides a downloadable pdf that puts the two acts (TSCA and KSCA) side by side for comparison. This is a must-read for all of us who care about children’s health.

Another way to become informed is to find out from an expert on the subject. If you will be in Austin, Texas, on March 19, you are invited to hear Dr. Phil Landrigan speak about children’s health and the environment, as well as the importance of passing KSCA.

In a press release advertising his upcoming talk, noted pediatrician and researcher Dr. Phil Landrigan is quoted as saying, “Failure of TSCA has direct implications for the health of America’s children. Infants and children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic industrial chemicals. Research from CDC documents [shows] that several hundred industrial chemicals are in all of us. Some of these chemicals are known to cause asthma, cancer, learning disabilities and birth defects. But for too many of the chemicals that are in us, no toxicity testing has ever been done.”

Hear Dr. Landrigan

To find out more about the health risks facing our children from toxic chemicals and why KSCA should be enacted, interested persons are invited to attend Dr. Landrigan’s talk, sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Title: “Children’s Health and the Environment: Target for Prevention”

Speaker: Dr. Philip Landrigan

Date: March 19, 2010

Time: 3:30 – 4:30, Reception to follow

Location: Livestrong Board Room, 2201 E. 6th St., Austin, TX

Dr. Phil Landrigan serves as Chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai. He is widely known as one of two scientists responsible for research that led to Congress mandating an end to the use of lead in gasoline and paint. Landrigan also was instrumental in spearheading the National Children’s Study, which will study the environmental effects on children’s health in sample communities across the US over the next couple of decades.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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5 Responses to “KSCA Would “Change the Paradigm” to Protect Kids’ Health”

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  4. Charli on March 8th, 2010 11:42 am

    I think one of the most important things chemical reform can do to protect us is to include nonanimal methods of testing into the language of the bill.

    Currently, many toxicity tests are based on experiments in animals and use methods that were developed as long ago as the 1930’s; they and are slow, inaccurate, open to uncertainty and manipulation, and do not adequately protect human health. These tests take anywhere from months to years, and tens of thousands to millions of dollars to perform. More importantly, the current testing paradigm has a poor record in predicting effects in humans and an even poorer record in leading to actual regulation of dangerous chemicals.

    Alternatives to animal testing exist in a powerful way and many scientists advocate them. If we want to see true changes in our health we must reform the ways we conduct science.

  5. Julia Wasson on March 9th, 2010 8:10 am

    Excellent point, Charli. Thanks for raising the issue. Contact me if you are interested in talking about this in more detail. julia@blueplanetgreenliving.com