The Toxic Avoider
EPA failing to get health data on scads of potentially harmful chemicals
The U.S. EPA hasn’t collected data on the potential risks of tens of thousands of toxic substances, putting the public at risk, says a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates industrial chemicals, the EPA can’t force companies to provide health data unless there is overwhelming evidence that a chemical might be harmful. Thus the agency has health data on only about 15 percent of the compounds introduced to the U.S. market over the past 30 years; there are roughly 80,000 chemicals in use today. Studies are finding that humans carry hundreds of these chemicals in their bodies, including some that may cause cancer, birth defects, altered sex hormones, and other health problems. Today, Sens. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) are expected to introduce an overhaul of the TSCA that would strengthen requirements to test chemicals for impacts on human health.