The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) wants an overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The organizationÂ says the policy overseeing chemical safety doesn’t adequately protect pregnant women and children from chemicals such as the plastic additives bisphenol-A andÂ phthalates and adhesives (which tend to be polymers).
The 35-year-old act has been criticized in recent years by federal and industrial groups as being mostly useless. Under the TSCA’s set-up, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only been able to test 200 chemicals out of 80,000 or more substances listed in the TSCA inventory. Of the 200 chemicals tested, only five chemicals have been restricted by the agency.Â They include asbestos, lead-based paint, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including as plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products.
Passed in 1976, the TSCA requires companies that manufacture chemicals to notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of intent to market a new chemical. The chemical manufacturers are not required to perform any safety testing before notifying the EPA.
The AAP now joinsÂ the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Nurses Association in its call for changes to the TSCA. InÂ itsÂ statement,Â released on April 25 in the journalÂ Pediatrics, the AAP criticized the legislation:
Its processes are so cumbersome that in its more than 30 years of existence, the TSCA has been used to regulate only 5 chemicals or chemical classes of the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in commerce. Under the TSCA, chemical companies have no responsibility to perform premarket testing or postmarket follow-up of the products that they produce; in fact, the TSCA contains disincentives for the companies to produce such data.
The AAP recommends the TSCA be rewritten so that the EPA hasÂ the authority to demand additional safety data about a chemical and to halt or restrict the marketing of a chemical when experts suspectÂ that it’s dangerous.
Source:Â ”Policy Statementâ€”Chemical-Management Policy: Prioritizing Children’s Health,” Pediatrics, 04/25/11
Source: “Pediatricians Seek Stiffer Regulation of Chemicals,” WebMD Health News, 04/25/11
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Rajendrani "Raj" Mukhopadhyay is a science writer and editor who contributes news stories and feature articles on scientific advances to a variety of magazines. Raj holds Ph.D. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University.