"Pediatricians Seek Change in Lax Toxic Chemicals Law"

"Alarmed by studies showing children are vulnerable to toxic chemicals found in scores of consumer products, the nation's largest pediatrician group is joining a growing campaign to overhaul how the U.S. regulates hazardous substances.

In a policy statement to be issued Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics condemns a 1976 federal law that largely relies on chemical manufacturers to raise concerns about their products. Unlike the system for guaranteeing the safety of pharmaceutical drugs or substances added to food, the Toxic Substance Control Act limits federal officials from ordering testing or banning industrial chemicals.

Before chemicals are allowed to be sold, the group says, testing should consider how they can affect children and pregnant women. Decisions to limit or ban substances should be based on 'reasonable levels of concern' instead of waiting until it becomes clear that exposure triggers deaths and diseases.

Under current law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges it knows little about thousands of chemicals produced in volumes of 1 million pounds a year or more. But a growing amount of independent research is raising concerns about dozens of substances used for decades with little or no government oversight."

Michael Hawthorne reports for the Chicago Tribune April 24, 2011.

Source: Chicago Tribune, 04/25/2011