The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) added its voice to the growing number of organizations and individuals that support the current push in Congress to update the notoriously outdated Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. In a policy statement issued today, the group is "calling for an overhaul of the nation’s chemical management policy because the current system fails to protect children and pregnant women, who are most vulnerable to hazardous chemical exposures."

Spurred to action by the introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D- N.J.), the AAP has joined the campaign to overhaul how the U.S. regulates hazardous substances.

In its policy statement, the AAP condemns the 1976 Toxic Substance Control Act as a law that makes chemicals innocent until proven guilty. Unlike the system that regulates the safety of pharmaceutical drugs or substances added to food, the Toxic Substance Control Act limits federal officials from ordering testing or banning industrial chemicals and relies on chemical manufacturers to raise concerns about their products. The group recommends several steps that lawmakers could take to strengthen the 35-year-old law.

  • The regulation of chemicals must be based on evidence, but decisions to ban chemicals should be based on reasonable levels of concern rather than demonstrated harm. 
  • Any testing of chemicals should include the impact on women and children, including potential effects on reproduction and development.
  • Chemicals should meet safety standards similar to those met by pharmaceuticals or pesticide residues on food.
  • There should be post-marketing surveillance of chemicals, and the EPA must have the authority to remove a chemical if needed.
  • Federal funding should be provided for research to prevent, identify and evaluate the effects of chemicals on children’s health.
Check out the full policy statement here.

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