Unfortunately progress in getting the EPA to require the removal of toxic chemicals from the market is next to impossible.
Manufacturers can avoid disclosing possible health hazards of a particular ingredient in a product simply by stating that the information is not readily available, or it's a "trade secret" and they get a free pass from the EPA.
On this page we're going to take a look at a bit of history behind toxic chemical safety. We'll also present just a couple of instances where the decision making process to be swayed.
This "swaying" has come by way of outside influences which have a VERY BIG financial interest in the final outcome of rulings. Can you say "Big Chemical Companies"?
In 1976 President Gerald Ford signed into law the Toxic Substances Control Act. That law has, for the most part, not been updated since 1976.
Although this law appeared to the general public to be a good thing, it was severally lacking in substance.
This law was so weak that, using it as the basis for legal arguments, safety groups were unable to get asbestos outlawed in the late 1970's. It wasn't until 1989 that the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule was established.
The Toxic Substances Control Act grandfathered over 62,000 chemicals. This law does not require new chemicals to be tested for human health and safety prior to being put into use.
Of those 62,000 chemicals only approximately 200 of them have been reviewed in 32 years and only 5 of those have been banned or severely restricted.
If a company does bring a new chemical for approval, approx. 80% are approved in 3 weeks or less. So, why review only 200 of the original 62,000 in 32 years? Are they afraid of what they might find or do they just not want to be bothered?
Theoretically, the EPA exists to assure that our environment is safe, thus their name "Environmental Protection Agency". The problem is, the EPA is run by individuals who have a work history tied back to one or more of the large chemical manufacturers who are the root of the problem to start with.
Case in point, the current Administrator, prior to joining the EPA he was employed by Hazelton Laboratories Corp. and Litton Bionetics, Inc.
His predecessor, Administrator Browner, was a long time political insider with a law degree. Her environmental background consisted of 2 years as the head of Florida's Department of Environmental Regulation prior to being appointed as the Administrator.
She, like all government officials, was subjected to never ending pressure from "special" interest lobby groups.
Administrator Browner established The Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) 1998 to research various toxic chemicals and their possible effects on fetal development, infants and children.
This committee was made up of individuals from university science and medical departments, state governments, industry scientists, pediatricians, nurses, environmental organizations, and children's advocate groups.
Each of these people possesses the highest levels of expertise in the areas necessary to discover and understand the potential fetal development consequences of various chemical exposures.
The CHPAC, after extensive research, reported their recommendations to Administrator Browner. Administrator Browner, it would appear, ruled based on the greater political expediency. She chose to ignore completely the recommendations of the CHPAC.
As an attorney by trade she had no scientific background or justification to base her decision on.
Administrator Browner selected standards well above the CHPAC recommendations. She and the EPA ultimately set the standards at levels which do not adequately protect fetal development, infants and children. At this time the standards have not been revised.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Reported on April 4, 2008 that:
"Three weeks after the launch of a major Congressional investigation into conflicts of interest compromising EPA expert review panels and the revelation that EPA, at the request of the chemical industry, had fired a career public health professional as chair of an important chemical safety review panel, EPA convened yet another panel with members linked to polluting industries."
The committee chair that was fired was the chairwoman of The Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. She was fired because she publicly denounced the chemical companies for their continued disregard for the health and safety of children. The chemical companies of course took exception to this and filed complaints with the agency.
So, the chairwoman was relieved of her duties.
"The members of the "new" panel are charged with reviewing a controversial new document that would weaken safety standards put in place to protect children from carcinogens.
Chemical companies stand to save millions if they can weaken EPA safeguards for carcinogens."
This new committee has as two of its member’s people who have direct ties to the chemical industry. Chairwoman Dr. Bette Meek is a long time chemical industry insider.
Then there's committee member, Jerry M. Rice who is a consultant to the American Petroleum Institute and also to the law firm of Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann which represents many of the chemical companies which manufacture the toxic chemicals in question.
Hello, do you see any problem with this?
This issues within the EPA are only the tip of the "iceberg" so to speak. Over at the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) it would seem that their policy is to save the American tax payer money at the expense of the tax payers health. It seems that their policy is to hire those who bring them new products as the official responsible for approving or disapproving that product.
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