Nurses Safer Chemicals Toolkit



The Toxic Substances Control Act is the federal law governing chemical manufacturing in the United States. When the law was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in approximately 62,000 existing chemicals, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was not required to test for the potentially harmful and carcinogenic health impacts. Because of the way the law is written, the EPA's authority is limited in mandating testing and research on chemicals; only about 200 of the pre-existing chemicals have been tested since 1976, and only five have been successfully restricted (PCBs, chlorofluorocarbons, dioxin, asbestos, and hexavalent chromium).

In the past several years, The Centers for Disease Control National Health and Nutrition Exam Study have begun to measure the presence of toxic chemicals in the blood, urine, and breast milk of thousands of Americans and found them to be ubiquitous in all of us. Unfortunately our bodies have become repositories for poisonous environmental chemicals which have been linked to several rising health trends including an increased prevalence of various cancers in both adults and children, doubled rates of asthma in the last 20 years, increases in pediatric neurological disease and disability such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder, and reduced fertility in both men and women.

Because of their science-based practice, nurses understand the connection between the environment, human health, and disease. Workplace exposures handling dozens of chemicals, drugs, and cleaning agents also make nurses increasingly vulnerable to incurring health risks associated with long-term exposure to these chemical agents.

Members of Health Care Without Harm and the Nurses Workgroup have been integral in partnering to address the health risks of hazardous chemical exposures and the need for an updated federal chemical policy. Please review the resources and information below and join the Nurses Workgroup to promote education and policy reform to protect workplaces and communities from harmful chemical exposures.

Nurses & Chemical Exposures


Body Burden Studies


Posters & Presentations


Nurses in the News