I received a press release from the Environmental Working Group a little while ago, White House Bows to Chemical Companies notifying me that the White House has caved to the Chemical Industry and knocked down two EPA proposals that would have helped protect the American consumer, their families and the Environment.
This story struck me as very ironic. For an Administration so concerned at the moment with toxic chemicals and their use in the Middle East, I find it more than disappointing that this same Administration turns the other way here at home when a different class of toxic chemicals are showing up in things we use in our daily lives. There is a large degree of difference of course, but the chemicals don't know the difference as they take effect on our health and safety, our lives.
The author of the press release is clearly angry at this news:
For several years, the White House Office of Management and Budget had been holding up two rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the public from exposure to certain chemicals. The first, submitted in 2010, would have expanded a list of “chemicals of concern” targeted for further action to reduce the risk they pose to the public. The second, proposed a year later, would have prohibited chemical companies from keeping secret the identity of chemicals under review when they submit health and safety studies to the Environmental Protection Agency.What are these chemicals?
EPA is withdrawing both proposed rules, which had been part of a larger initiative launched in 2009 by then-EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to use the agency’s limited authority under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act to rein in the use of “chemicals of concern.”
“The action today is a devastating blow to the effort to protect public health against dangerous chemicals and a clear illustration of the risks human health and our children face when discretion is left to bean counters in the White House,” said EWG senior scientist David Andrews, PhD.
EPA had proposed adding bisphenol A, eight phthalates and a category of fire retardants known as PBDEs to the “chemicals of concern” list. The substances have been linked to a wide variety of health risks in American children. BPA and PBDE exposure during pregnancy and childhood is linked to behavioral problems. Prenatal phthalate exposure has been linked to reproductive system damage in boys.I wrote about BPA here a few years ago. It has been recognized as a toxic and hazardous chemical for some time. I believe both the EU and Canada have fully banned their use. For more about the chemical and its hazards, read here:
Perhaps even more damaging, the second blocked rule will impact our ability to research the possibly hazardous chemical composition of consumer goods, protecting the Chemical Companies for their confidentiality. As someone who regularly researches the hazards of chemicals used in the workplace, I believe this is terrible news for workers.
The second withdrawn rule dealt with a critically important aspect of the law that mandates that health and safety studies of chemicals cannot be kept secret as “Confidential Business Information” (CBI). In practice, however, chemical companies invoked their legal right to protect trade secrets in order to block public disclosure of the identity of the chemicals in the studies. [...] The new rule would have required disclosure of the chemical identities within safety studies.More on this story here:
EPA to withdraw 2 high-profile regulations -- sources
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) heralded the decision to pull the regulations back.Yes, of course they are thrilled.
“The proposals were rendered unnecessary when EPA wisely chose to adopt a better approach for prioritizing chemicals and reviewing claims for confidential chemical information under TSCA,” the ACC said in a statement.