Updating Our Chemical Laws After 36 Years

In 1976, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act -- or TSCA -- to protect our health from the increasing number of chemicals in our products and our environment. In the four decades since its passage, many laws have changed to better protect our safety, yet TSCA has not.

In fact, despite calls from industry, policy makers, health and environmental groups, the EPA and others, TSCA has not been updated in 36 years. While EPA has worked to raise awareness about green chemistry alternatives and address threats from chemicals of concern, we need a law that keeps up with today's needs.

Yesterday, we heard some good news on that front. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted to approve the Safe Chemicals Act, which updates many of the key provisions of TSCA. The bill provides manufacturers with more certainty than the current, inconsistent patchwork of state laws. It also includes necessary steps to ensure EPA is in a position to safeguard Americans from the health risks posed by new or existing man-made chemicals.

While the committee vote fell along party lines, it is our hope to see, as the bill moves ahead, strong bipartisan support for keeping our kids and families safe from chemicals. Updating TSCA to ensure our health has brought together thousands of Americans, from industry to parents groups to environmentalists, in a call for action. Congress has an opportunity now to answer that call, and forge a broad coalition that will make our country -- and especially our children -- healthier and safer.

This is a positive step. We have a lot of work to do to modernize our chemical safety laws -- which means there is no better time to start than now.