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Cheers and jeers as Safe Chemicals Act moves ahead

chemicalsA Senate committee’s approval this week of an amendment to the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 is either a victory for American families or a defeat for bipartisan cooperation – depending on who you ask.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, an advocacy group, applauds the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s vote to approve an amendment from Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to the act.

“Today's vote is a victory for American families dealing with many health problems, like childhood cancer, linked to unregulated chemicals,” said spokesman Andy Igrejas. “We have a long way to go, but this is the first official action by a Congressional Committee to address the problem in 36 years. We hope Senate Republicans can find a way to join in this important work as this legislation moves to the Senate floor.”

The Society of Chemical Manufactures and Affiliates (SOCMA), however, says that advancing the legislation puts an end to productive bipartisan negotiations.

"Senator Lautenberg says he wants a bipartisan bill, but today's markup says otherwise," said SOCMA's Bill Allmond. "Progress was being made by both sides toward a workable approach, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of a bipartisan victory."

Allmond added that the amended legislation is an improvement over the previous version and does address some key provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), such as separating the inventory of chemicals into an active and inactive list. It also has more targeted information requirements, and includes processor reporting and puts more emphasis on utilizing existing information. The amended version also requires prioritization and improves the treatment of U.S. intellectual property and new chemicals, both of which are essential areas of a modernized TSCA.

The Safe Chemicals Act would overhaul the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Passed in 1976, TSCA's presumption that chemicals should be considered innocent until proven guilty was a departure from the approach taken with pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Since then, published studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown that many common chemicals can cause chronic diseases and can be toxic even at low doses.

Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, said; "The Safe Chemicals Act would provide EPA with the authority it needs to protect public health; the marketplace with the information companies need to innovate safe products; and consumers with the comfort in knowing that their families are being protected.”

About Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition represents more than 11 million individuals and includes parents, health professionals, advocates for people with learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive health advocates, environmentalists and businesses from across the nation. The coalition focuses on toxic chemicals in the home, workplace and commonly used products.


SOCMA represents a diverse membership of small, medium and large chemical companies with a global membership of 220 companies which employ more than 46,000 workers in the U.S. alone. The value of the products and services provided by SOCMA members is $24 billion, and the industry's impact on the U.S. GDP is upwards of $2.9 trillion.

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