Congress hears from grassroots on toxics law

A national call-in week has spurred thousands of concerned citizens to contact their legislators about the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010. The draft legislation was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in mid-April, with a companion discussion draft tabled in the House by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL). The new bill would overhaul the Toxics Substances Control Act, a 30-year-old law which many critics claim has failed to protect public health from industrial chemicals. The law "could finally turn our ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach to regulating toxic chemicals on its head," writes Pesticide Action Network’s Senior Policy Analyst Kristin Schafer in a blog for TakePart.com. PAN is urging supporters to join in the national call-in effort, and to ask Congress to strengthen the bill’s language on persistent, bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). PBTs are long-lasting chemicals that can last for decades in the environment, build up in the food chain, and can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

PBTs that travel the globe on wind and water currents have been targeted for worldwide elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty). According to Schafer, strong language on PBTs in the Safe Chemicals Act would be an important step toward U.S. participation in the treaty, which has already been ratified by 170 other countries. "If we get our PBT house in order," says Schafer, "we can protect public health at home and play a constructive role on the international stage as well." The national pesticide law would also need revision for the U.S. to join as a full partner in the international POPs Treaty.

 

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