New Report: Reductions in Toxic Chemical Exposure Would Make Americans Healthier, Wealthier

Jan 21, 2010, 00:01 ET from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition

Congressional reform of toxics law could save billions in health care costs

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to a new analysis released today, "The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act," the U.S. has the opportunity to prevent chronic disease and reduce health care costs by overhauling federal chemical policy. Evidence is strong and growing that chemical exposure is contributing to the rise in many chronic diseases, according to this new report.

As the U.S. debates the costs of health care and its reform, "The Health Case" documents the enormous health care costs of treating chronic diseases and conditions linked to chemical exposure, according to recent studies. Conservative estimates show that reducing the incidence of these diseases by 0.1 percent could save $5 billion per year in health care costs. The coalition has estimated health care cost savings on a state-by-state basis.

The federal chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has not been updated since 1976.  The EPA has identified comprehensive reform of the toxics law as a key priority. Of the 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S., EPA has required safety testing on only 200. And 60,000 chemicals -- including bisphenol A -- were grandfathered in for use without testing for health safety. New legislation to update the toxics law will be introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) in early 2010.

"Scientific evidence is strong and growing, that chemicals are contributing to the alarming increases in serious health problems," says Charlotte Brody, RN, of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition and lead author of the report. "But meanwhile the federal law that is supposed to protect us has stayed frozen in time."

"The use of chemicals is pervasive in our modern society and, when properly tested and used, they improve the quality of life for families here and throughout the world," said U. S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.  "But just because chemicals have value, does not mean they are always beneficial to our health, particularly the health and maturation of young children and those whose health has already been compromised. As we work to reform TSCA, I will continue to vigorously prod industry to seek out and invest in the development of safer, more viable alternatives to hazardous chemicals and substances.  I applaud the Campaign's release of today's report, which goes a long way toward shedding light on a constructive way to move forward."

During the last 30 years, tens of thousands of peer reviewed studies have built a large body of evidence demonstrating that chemical exposure can cause and contribute to some of our nation's most serious health problems -- from childhood cancer to infertility. The report details the rates at which some of these health problems have been increasing.

The full report and state-based economic information is available at  Follow us on Twitter, @saferchemicals

SOURCE Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition