Safety billing

Wednesday 31 August 2005

A bill has been introduced in the us Senate that imposes the burden of proving the safety of chemicals present in consumer goods on their manufacturers. The Child, Worker and Consumer-Safe Chemicals Bill 2005, also referred to as the Kid Safe Chemicals Act, was introduced recently by six legislators -- five democrats and one independent.

Instead of presuming a substance is safe until proven dangerous, the measure will require manufacturers to provide health and safety information on chemicals used in their products. "We have laws to make sure that pesticides and medicines are safe. But we fail to require similar analysis for the chemicals used in baby bottles, water bottles, food packages and thousands of other products," said Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey senator, one of the six introducing the bill.

The tabling of the bill also follows a report released by the Government Accountability Office recently, suggesting amendments in the existing Toxic Substances Control Act, 1976, to empower the us Environment Protection Agency (epa) to regulate the use of chemicals more effectively (see Down To Earth, ' epa, a weakling', August 15, 2005). If the bill gets accepted, epa will have to determine the safety of 300 chemicals in the coming five years and by 2020, all chemicals present in consumer goods will need to meet the safety standards.

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