Humans are regularly exposed to a complex array of hundreds, possibly thousands, of chemicals in uncontrolled conditions. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Americans of all ages carry a body burden of at least 116 chemicals – some banned for more than two decades because of toxicity.
Merely 10% of chemicals released every year are ever tested for safety. Unfortunately, on the national level, the EPA has in effect tied its own hands with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. TSCA was designed to provide a safeguard against dangerous chemicals manufactured and imported into the United States. Chemicals already on the market at the time of its passage, however, have been “grand-fathered”. The EPA must show a chemical presents an “unreasonable risk” and demonstrate likely human exposure before requiring it to even be tested.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the latest bad boy to be held under a microscope so to speak. It seems there is enough interest to have BPA tested, and banned… so in comes the tax payer.
Rather than rely on the Precautionary Principle (PP) which mandates manufacturers and industries that use or emit toxic chemicals to assess the health and safety consequences, as well as environmental impacts, before introducing chemicals to the marketplace the US government is thinking of footing the bill. The PP points out the polluter must pay for research. The PP rests on the democratic principle that government officials are obligated to serve the public interest by protecting human health and the environment. An indication of harm, not just proof of harm, is grounds for action.
A look at the Food and Drug Administration’s website points out the absence of meaningful governmental protection against dangerous chemicals in thousands of products on the market today. Cosmetics for example:
“Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA pre-market approval authority, with the exception of color additives… Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing… Manufacturers are not required to register their cosmetic establishments, file data on ingredients, or report cosmetic-related injuries to FDA. However, companies are encouraged to register…” http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-206.html.
… And we’re going to depend on the government to ban BPA???