In an article published on March 14, 2016 in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical doctor (MD) Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine, U.S., discusses how well human health will be protected from hazardous chemicals under the proposed update for the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the U.S.. In 2015, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have approved bills to reform the country’s 40-year old chemicals regulation. Given mounting scientific evidence that “synthetic chemicals contribute to disease and dysfunction across the life course,” the modernization of TSCA should meet requirements to better protect public health, Trasande states. In particular, he highlights the impacts of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are “associated with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, neurodevelopmental disabilities, infertility, and breast and prostate cancers.”

In the absence of adequate nationwide regulation concerning potentially hazardous chemicals, 28 U.S. states “are considering or have passed legislation to limit synthetic chemicals in consumer products,” Trasande reports. However, both versions of the currently considered TSCA reform could undermine or override these state efforts (FPF reported). On the upside, the reform bills empower the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict production of hazardous chemicals and protect vulnerable populations (e.g. children and older adults). Further, the bills allow EPA to reexamine potential risks of chemicals that have previously been approved as safe. EPA can also require testing and “businesses can no longer keep information about chemical hazards secret from health care professionals who could use the information to manage patient care,” Trasande informs. He sees the most important flaw of both versions for TSCA modernization in the requirement for the EPA to only test five chemicals per year. In this manner, assuming there are 500 potentially hazardous chemicals on the market, it would take 100 years to complete their assessment.

Before TSCA modernization is passed into law, member of the U.S. House and Senate must now reconcile the two versions of the reform bill. Trasande recommends using this opportunity to further improve the final version of the bill, especially regarding more rigorous chemical testing, to better protect human health.

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Leonardo Trasande (March 14, 2016). “Updating the Toxic Substances Control Act to protect human health.The Journal of the American Medical Association