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Thursday, December 30, 2010
EPA Administrator
Lisa Jackson
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson delivered a speech that is incredibly revealing about the risks and negative impact of chemicals in our environment. It's no wonder that an increasing number of people are developing multiple chemical sensitivities.

We, at Yes It's Organic, frequently receive calls from people who can't wear any clothing or use any bedding unless it's organic due to the chemicals in non-organic farming and/or manufacturing processes. Are these individuals a warning sign to the rest of us?

The following is an exact excerpted quote from the Administrator's speech.

"Right now, I want to talk about another issue that is central to everything from restoring public trust to protecting our children to growing our economy: understanding the risks posed by chemicals, and doing our utmost to make sure they are safe.

After World War II, the chemical industry in this country grew by leaps and bounds, earning the US an enviable reputation for innovation but also making chemicals pervasive in our lives. Everything from our cars, to the cell phones we all have in our pockets are constructed with plastics and chemical additives. The technological revolution that my two sons take for granted has done more than change the way we interact with each other – it’s made chemicals ubiquitous in our economy and products – as well as our environment and our bodies.

A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history. A 2005 study found 287 different chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborn babies – chemicals from pesticides, fast food packaging, coal and gasoline emissions, and trash incineration. They were found in children in their most vulnerable stage. Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food. Now, some chemicals may be risk-free at the levels we are seeing. I repeat: some chemical may be risk-free. But as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused. Many are turning to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks haven’t been ignored.

Right now, we are failing to get this job done. Our oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. It was an important step forward at the time – part of a number of environmental wins from the 1970s, like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, not to mention the formation of the EPA. But over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate - it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.

Manufacturers of existing chemicals aren’t required to develop the data on toxicity and exposure needed to assess potential risks and demonstrate to EPA that chemicals meet risk-based safety standards. EPA has tools to require the industry to conduct testing, but they are cumbersome and time-consuming. As a result, there are troubling gaps in the available data on many widely used chemicals in commerce.

On new chemicals, companies have no legal obligation to develop new information, only to supply data that may already exist.

As with existing chemicals, the burden of proof falls on EPA. Manufacturers aren’t required to show that sufficient data exist to fully assess a chemical’s risks. If EPA has adequate data, and wants to protect the public against known risks, the law creates obstacles to quick and effective action. Since 1976, EPA has issued regulations to control only five existing chemicals determined to present an unreasonable risk. Five from a total universe of almost 80,000 existing chemicals. In 1989, after years of study, EPA issued rules phasing out most uses of asbestos, an exhaustively studied substance that has taken an enormous toll on the health of Americans. Yet, a court overturned EPA’s rules because it had failed to clear the many hurdles for action under TSCA.

Today, advances in toxicology and analytical chemistry are revealing new pathways of exposure. There are subtle and troubling effects of chemicals on hormone systems, human reproduction, intellectual development and cognition. Every few weeks, we read about new potential threats: Bisphenol A, or BPA – a chemical that can affect brain development and has been linked to obesity and cancer – is in baby bottles; phthalate esters – which have been said to affect reproductive development – are in our medical devices; we see lead in toys; dioxins in fish; and the list goes on. Many states – including California – have stepped in to address these threats because they see inaction at the national level."

Source: Full Speech on EPA web site Delivered on 9/29/2009.


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