5 Ways the Outdated Toxic Chemicals Law Makes Us Sick


The major law regulating chemicals in commerce is dizzying. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed 37 years ago this week. It's never been amended, updated, or reworked, and its outdated approach harms our children.

In the 37 years since TSCA was passed, we've experienced major advances in the way we protect children from automobile injuries. Advances in this area contrast just how backwards it is to use a 37-year-old law to protect children from chemical exposures.

In the past three decades, car seat standards have significantly improved the chances of a child surviving a car crash. We've gone from unrestrained children roaming freely in the back seat, to a regimented, research-based series of directives reinforced by regulation.

These days, you can't be sent home from the hospital without an infant car seat for your newborn baby.

If only the same could be said for industrial chemical exposures.

More than 80,000 chemicals commonly used in the United States have never been fully assessed for toxic impacts on human health and the environment. Because children are physiologically more vulnerable to adverse health effects from chemical exposures, this glaring regulatory lapse hurts our children the most.

Under the current law, we are unprotected from thousands of unregulated chemicals, some of which are known to be toxic to our families. Since the law limits the EPA from sharing information needed to understand the risks, it's impossible for us to know what is harmful and what is not. This also provides no incentive for the chemical industry to innovate toward safer chemicals.

This is unacceptable.

Here are the facts:

  1. In 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was intended to protect people and the environment from exposure to dangerous chemicals.
  2. When the law went into effect, some 62,000 chemicals escaped testing and most have remained on the market ever since.
  3. Science now tells us that many of these chemicals have been linked to hormonal, reproductive and immune problems, cancer, and a plethora of environmental problems.
  4. Since 1976, an additional 22,000 chemicals have been introduced without any testing for public or environmental safety.
  5. These chemicals can be found in cleaning products, furniture, building materials, electronics, food and drink containers, and toys your children play with every day.

This is not a groovy law. This law does not protect our families. This law needs to change.

This was written by MCAF's Health Policy and Outreach Manager, Molly Rauch and Managing Editor, Ronnie Citron-Fink.