The Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976, allows the EPA to regulate chemicals to ensure that chemicals are safe throughout their lifecycle, from manufacture to use and disposal. However, due to weaknesses in the law, the Environmental Protection Agency has been unable to require testing on specific chemicals or regulate chemicals that are known to cause health hazards. As a result, there are over 80,000 unregulated and untested chemicals being used in the United States. The health and environmental effects of these chemicals are unknown, but since 1976 scientists have linked health hazards such as cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, birth defects and other reproductive problems to toxic chemical exposure. Although the EPA is trying to regulate these chemicals, the law requires the EPA to prove a chemical poses an “unreasonable risk” to health or the environment before it can be tested.
The good news is, legislation is in place and individuals and businesses are taking action to eliminate toxic chemicals in consumer products. Senator Frank Lautenberg, introduced the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill that would improve the safety of chemicals used in consumer products, require the chemical industry to develop and provide information about the health and environmental impacts of their chemicals, and allow the EPA to take action against the worst chemicals.Socially and environmentally responsible businesses can also make an impact by providing consumers with safe products and refusing to use or sell products that contain harmful and untested chemicals. These harmful chemicals are found in