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Pediatricians Work to Protect Kids from Toxic Chemicals

05.02.11 Pediatricians Work to Protect Kids from Toxic Chemicals

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The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently released a policy statement requesting reform to the far outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). In the statement, the AAP reveals that children's health is particularly at risk because of special vulnerabilities inherent in growing bodies.

The AAP also acknowledges that the processes are so cumbersome that, "in its more than 30 years of existence, the TSCA has been used to regulate only 5 chemicals or chemical classes of the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in commerce". In fact, chemical companies do not carry the responsibility of testing, neither before a product is released to the public nor afterwards. The AAP is yet another, in a growing list of health organizations, calling for action to reform the TSCA.

Jerome Paulson, a pediatrician and lead author of the statement, notes on an article for NPR, that the group is asking for chemicals to simply be tested for safety before they come on the market, in the same way prescription drugs are handled. They are also requesting a, "post-market surveillance system, like there is for medications, so that if health problems do start cropping up, there's a way to monitor them and respond. Most of all, they want the feds to recognize that chemicals may pose very different threats to children than they do to adults".

Liz Szabo, from USA Today writes, "Many children's advocates say they're concerned that toxic exposures could be fueling the recent rise in early puberty in girls and a variety of chronic diseases, such as autism, allergies, asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD."

"When the nation's pediatricians sound the alarm, it's time to act," says Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "These are the doctors who see and treat more and more children with autism, ADHD, cancer and other serious health problems that are on the rise."

Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) confirms, "America's system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken". Lautenberg along with four other Democratic Senators, recently introduced the Safe Chemical Act of 2011, a bill intended to modernize the TSCA. This act would, "require safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order to get on or stay on the market".

Highlights of the Safe Chemicals Act 2011:

  • Provides EPA with sufficient information to judge a chemical’s safety.
  • Prioritizes chemicals based on risk.
  • Takes fast action to address highest risk chemicals.
  • Ensures safety threshold is met for all chemicals on the market.
  • Creates open access to reliable chemical information.
  • Promotes innovation and development of green chemistry.

To read the bill in detail, read pdf here or read more about the Safe Chemicals Act, here.

Here's another reminder of our job as parents to be vigilant of the materials and products we bring into our homes. Has this topic of harmful chemicals come up in conversation with your pediatrician?

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