Labor and health groups are calling for a reform of the federal toxic chemical law after a report reveals its impact on people and the economy.
According to the report from the National Resources Defense Council, workers, families and children are being affected by toxic chemical exposures in clothes, furniture, toys, water, et cetera.
Head of Safety and Environment for the United Steelworkers of America Michael Wright says over the years, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has proved to be the weakest of all environmental laws.
Wright says the 1976 law is supposed to test chemicals before they’re used in commerce, but he says the EPA must prove a chemical is toxic before it can be tested for its toxicity.
Maureen Swanson, Director of the Healthy Children Project for the Learning Disabilities of Association of America, says certain diseases and disorders are increasing partly because of toxic chemical exposures.
She says breast cancer and cancers in children, plus learning and development disabilities, reproductive disorders and infertility, Parkinson’s disease and asthma are all on the rise due to these exposures.
Maryann Donovan, Director of Research Services for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, says we’re mostly exposed to toxic chemicals inadvertently. She says exposure not only comes from air and water pollution and pesticides, but also from personal care products, construction materials and furniture.
Swanson says toxic chemical exposures also affect our economy.
The report found that if an updated law yields even a .1 percent decrease in chronic disease, we would save five billion dollars annually in direct health care expenditures, which means Pennsylvania would save almost 195 million dollars annually.