Congress Looks at Toxic Load for NY Kids
May 6, 2010
NEW YORK - Flame retardants, certain plastics, and chemical dyes and pigments - that's a sampling from a list of toxic substances of concern from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as Congress looks at changing the "Toxic Substances Control Act" to give the EPA more regulation tools to protect New York kids.
Maureen Swanson, director of the Healthy Children Project of the Learning Disabilities Association of America (New York Chapter, based in Latham), says the changes are important. Scientific evidence has documented health problems related to exposure to many toxins, she explains, information that was not available when the law was first passed.
She claims technicalities in the original law have made it tough for the EPA to regulate even well-known toxins, such as asbestos.
"The statute required such a high level of proof for EPA to meet that they could not meet it and could not ban asbestos. Which I think most Americans think asbestos has been banned. It wasn't. Since that time, the EPA has not tried again."
Swanson says of the 80,000 chemicals approved for use in the U.S., the EPA has been able to require safety testing of only 200. Swanson says specifically including protections for children is key, because they are more sensitive to exposure.
"Pound for pound, children breathe more air, drink more water and eat more food than adults do, so they're just taking in a lot more of whatever is out there. They also spend a lot more time on the ground, and they put hands and objects in their mouth."
The new "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" would require that chemicals meet basic safety standards to protect pregnant women and children.