AND EVIDENTLY THE LAST DAYS OF TONY HAYWARD, chief executive of BP. Multiple reports indicate Hayward will leave the company, as early as today. Hayward’s PR gaffes after the Gulf gusher further stoked U.S. anger over the incident. The U.S. is a critical market both for consumption of BP product and offshore drilling.
BP is expected th is week to report a $13 billion loss for the quarter as it makes provisions for the cost of the oil spill that could exceed $25 billion.
Cry not for Tony. He parachutes from BP with a reported multi-million-dollar severance.
U.S. CHEMICAL POLICY OVERHAUL
We’ve had healthcare reform, banking reform, the beginnings of OSHA and MSHA reform, next up: reform of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.
Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) last Friday introduced a bill to overhaul U.S. chemicals policy in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The "Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010" is intended to overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which according to supporters of reform, “has failed to regulate chemicals in consumer products – even those that have known links to cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive disorders, and other serious health problems.
For the first time, the chemical industry would be required to demonstrate that chemicals are safe, rather than the EPA having to prove they are unsafe. In a major shift the legislation would require chemical manufacturers to provide basic health and safety information for all chemicals as a condition for them remaining on or entering the market and to make that information public.
The House legislation follows a similar bill introduced in the Senate in April by Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) called the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010". For the past three months Congressmen Rush and Waxman have been meeting with key stakeholders including industry representatives, health and environmental advocates and the EPA to come up with a balanced bill.
The massive scope and complexities of the House and Senate bills make it almost a certainty that Congress will be working on these bills in 2011 and beyond.
WHERE IS SENATE “HELP” FOR OSHA REFORM?
No sign on the calendar of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) that OSHA and MSHA reform legislation is scheduled to be introduced. The House Labor Committee voted last week to send the reform measures to the full House floor for a vote.
An attempt was made in the House Labor Committee by a GOP representative to strip the OSHA provisions from the bill, using the argument the OSHA teeth sharpening measures are too broad and significant and deserve to be debated separately. House Dems shot down that proposal, which will probably be attempted again by Senate GOPers.
But the Senate might not even get a look at OSHA and MSHA reform until the full House approves its bill, along a straight party line vote.
NEW SUNSCREEN RULES – TO BECOME LAW AFTER 2010 SUMMER
Just in time for… next summer: the Food and Drug Administration’s new regulations for sunscreens were scheduled to go into effect in May 2010, but the FDA postponed the target date to October 2010, reports the Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat newsletter.
Here are a few of the proposed changes:
- Companies would test and rank UVA protection, not just UVB.
- SPF tops out at 50+. The SPF is a comparison between the time it takes the skin to turn red with and without sunscreen. The number is calculated like this: if a person normally experiences the onset of redness on unprotected skin after 10 minutes of exposure, an SPF-15 sunscreen would provide protection for 150 minutes. Several years ago the FDA said the data it had received supported SPFs up to 50, so it proposed a cap of 50+. That cap may go up in the final rules. Originally the agency was going to draw the line at 30+.
- Sun protection factor gets a new name. The term “sun protection factor” is misleading because it’s a measure only of sunburn and UVB protection, not protection against the entire UV spectrum. The proposed rules acknowledge the misnomer and would change the name to sunburn protection factor.
- Generous and liberal use still encouraged. Most people use less than half the amount of the sunscreen required to get the SPF protection on the label. But under the rules as proposed, the label would continue to say that sunscreen should be applied “liberally” or “generously” before sun exposure.
- Reapplication emphasized. The label on many sunscreens would suggest reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel.
The invisible ultraviolet light that affects the skin is divided into two categories, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB is the main cause of sunburn and the more carcinogenic of the two, although both contribute to skin cancer. UVA, which moves at a longer wavelength and is more penetrating, is responsible for tanning and contributes to skin aging.
Many sunscreens currently on the market promise “broad spectrum” protection against both UVA and UVB, but the manufacturers can use whatever tests they want to back up that claim.
Under the new rules, sunscreens would be required to undergo two types of assessments of their UVA-blocking power: a test of the sunscreen itself and another one that compares how fast skin tans with and without the product on. There would be no SPF-like rating, instead, sunscreens would be ranked as providing low, medium, high, or highest UVA protection, with corresponding stars (one for low, two for medium, and so on). Sunscreens won’t be required to block UVA, but the label would have to say “No UVA protection” if the product didn’t.
WHY AMERICANS ARE GRUMPY
It’s not only the relentless onslaught of 90+ degree days in much of the country.
And it’s not the shaky reception of Apple’s next generation iPhones…
It’s captured in an article in yesterday’s New York Times: “Industries Find Surging Profits in Deeper Cuts”
Quoth the Times: “Because of high unemployment, management is using its leverage to get more hours out of workers,” said Robert C. Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and the former president of Fidelity Investments. “What’s worrisome is that American business has gotten used to being a lot leaner, and it could take a while before they start hiring again.”
And it’s also captured in this Gallup headline: “Six in 10 Workers Hold No Hope of Receiving Social Security”
States Gallup: “Six in 10 Americans who have not yet retired believe they will get no Social Security benefits when they retire, more pessimistic than at any time since Gallup began asking this question in 1989.”