Rising Concern Over Stain-Resistant Chemicals and Congress’s Ties to the Chemical Industry

Last month, we wrote about poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), stain resistant and waterproof chemicals that are used in many products, including health care devices. As concern about the ubiquity and toxicity of these chemicals continues to grow, many are starting to question the serious health implications of daily exposure to these chemicals, as well as the need for greater government protection.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently covered the topic of PFASs, delving into the concerns voiced by a myriad of scientists about the pervasiveness of these chemicals. Citing the Madrid Statement, that has been signed by more than 200 scientists, Kristof points out how many of these chemicals have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer, hypothyroidism, ulcerative colitis and other problems. Furthermore, Kristof explains how the argument made by the chemical industry that short-chain PFASs are a safer alternative is flawed, pointing out data gaps for these replacement chemicals.
Kristof notes that our nation’s major law regulating chemicals has not protected the public from toxic exposure. Congress is currently in the midst of reforming the law, known as TSCA, seeking to replace this outdated legislation with a proposed Senate bill, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century, something Kristof describes as “so weak a bill that the chemical industry has embraced it.”  A proposed bill in the House has also faced criticism. With the chemical industry able to spend close to $190 million in lobbying efforts over the past three years alone, something Kristof likens to the tobacco and lead lobbies a generation ago, we are facing an uphill battle for chemical safety reform.

Health Care Without Harm’s Safer Chemicals Program has been closely monitoring TSCA reform, and will continue to advocate for a comprehensive chemical safety bill that prioritizes human health and protects the environment.

[Source: New York Times]