Autism Society Applauds the Introduction of the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011”
April 15, 2011
By Autism Society
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
301-657-0881 x 9015
Signaling their clear intention to protect families from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems, Senators Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Amy Klobuchar, Charles Schumer and others introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act” last week to upgrade America’s outdated system for managing chemical safety. (Click here to watch video of Sen. Lautenberg talking about the bill.)
The Act responds to increasingly forceful warnings from scientific and medical experts -- including the President’s Cancer Panel -- that current policies have failed to curtail common chemicals linked to diseases such as cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, and more. The Senate’s Safe Chemicals Act builds on momentum from 18 states that have passed laws to address health hazards from chemicals and numerous corporate policies of major American companies restricting toxic chemicals, including Staples, SC Johnson, Wal-Mart and Kaiser Permanente.
“Thousands of unchecked toxins in the American marketplace are highly detrimental to the 1.5 million Americans living with autism today because many have immune deficiencies that, when exposed to certain substances, complicate already existing health issues,” said Lee Grossman, Autism Society President & CEO. "As the leading autism organization exploring the link between environmental toxins and autism, the Autism Society thanks Senators Lautenberg, Boxer, Klobuchar and Schumer for standing up for American families.”
The Safe Chemicals Act would overhaul the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which is widely perceived to have failed to protect public health and the environment. Specifically, the Act would:
• Require EPA to identify and restrict the “worst of the worst” chemicals, those that persist and build up in the food chain;
• Require basic health and safety information for all chemicals as a condition for entering or remaining on the market;
• Reduce the burden of toxic chemical exposures on people of color and low-income and indigenous communities;
• Upgrade scientific methods for testing and evaluating chemicals to reflect best practices called for by the National Academy of Sciences; and
• Generally provide EPA with the tools and resources it needs to identify and address chemicals posing health and environmental concerns.
“The whole world has woken up to the ragged holes in our federal safety net for chemicals,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of 280 health, environmental and business groups, of which the Autism Society is the only autism-specific member. “We need a new law to put commonsense limits on toxic chemicals, both to protect American families and to give a leg up to American firms in a world market that increasingly demands safer products.”
Passed in 1976, TSCA’s presumption that chemicals should be considered innocent until proven guilty was a sharp departure from the approach taken with pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Since then, an overwhelming body of science has shown that presumption to be unfounded. Published studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown many common chemicals can cause chronic diseases and can be toxic even at low doses.
“It has been far too long since our nation's chemical substances policy has been reformed. This legislation is a critical first step in addressing the environmental health issues surrounding autism,” said Jeff Sell, Autism Society Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel. “I am proud that the Autism Society is taking the lead in the autism community in efforts to educate and empower the public on the impact of the environment on their health and the health of future generations.”
About the Autism Society
The Autism Society, the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. Together with more than 150 chapters nationwide, the Autism Society increases public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocates for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and provides the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit www.autism-society.org.
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