Our hat is off to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and her colleagues on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee for finally advancing a bill that will better help protect U.S. consumers from toxic chemicals in the products they buy.
Cheers to Snowe, a Republican, and to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., for getting out of committee a truly bipartisan bill that updates the 36-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act.
It’s a sad commentary that the U.S. Congress has been unable to modernize a law whose primary purpose is to protect the public from dangerous chemicals, in particular those used to make flame retardants for furniture and other products.
The committee’s vote came on the heels of an oversight hearing in Washington showing the industry that makes these chemicals has been distorting the science and engaging in deceptive lobbying practices to protect its bottom line.
These chemicals, which actually do little to stop fires and can make fires more toxic, have been found in the blood of many Americans. Particularly disturbing is their presence in the blood of pregnant women, as discovered by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention biomonitoring program.
These chemicals are also used in food packaging. Ingesting even trace amounts can result in health problems for children and adults.
The bill, as it left committee, would at a minimum require manufacturing firms and chemical-makers to fully disclose the hazards associated with their products. It also would require chemical companies to demonstrate fully the safety of their products by using the best science available and not just a public relations “junk science” marketing campaign.
“A law enacted in 1976 cannot effectively regulate our modern chemical industry,” Snowe said on passage of the bill. We couldn’t agree more, and can only wonder what’s taken our federal lawmakers so long to get on the bandwagon.
Maine lawmakers, including Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, and House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, should likewise be proud of their advocacy for this bill. Together, Cain and Raye advanced a joint resolution urging action on this important topic.
Sun Journal, Lewiston (July 27)