EPA unveils plan to review 6 controversial chemicals, reform US toxics policy

Jane Kay, Environmental Health News:

Saying that the public is “understandably anxious and confused” about chemicals in their bodies and in their environment, President Obama’s top environmental official announced on Tuesday a new push to transform the way the nation regulates industrial compounds.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson called the nation’s 1976 toxics law “inordinately cumbersome and time-consuming.” As a result, she said the Obama Administration will promote a new chemical law in Congress in the coming months that puts the responsibility on industry to prove that its compounds are safe.

In the meantime, Jackson said, the EPA will begin to analyze and regulate six high-profile chemicals that have raised health concerns. Included are bisphenol A, or BPA, found in hard, clear polycarbonate bottles, and phthalates, which are used in vinyl and cosmetics.

Also targeted are brominated flame retardants added to electronics and other goods; perfluorinated compounds used in manufacturing non-stick coatings and food packaging; some parafins, used in lubricants, and benzidine dyes and pigments. Many scientists say these chemicals can mimic hormones and obstruct development of fetuses and children, as well as possibly cause reproductive problems, cancer or other health effects.

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