The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling for an overhaul of the nation’s chemical management policy because the current system fails to protect children and pregnant women, who are most vulnerable to hazardous chemical exposures.
Over the past few decades, tens of thousands of new chemicals have been introduced into the environment, often in extremely large quantities. But the primary federal law that governs chemical management in the U.S. – the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – has not undergone any meaningful revision since it was first passed in 1976, and since then, the TSCA has been used to regulate only five chemicals or chemical classes. In a new policy statement, “Chemical-Management Policy: Prioritizing Children’s Health,” published in the May 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online April 25), the AAP recommends that the chemical-management policy be “substantially revised.”
The AAP recommends any chemicals policy should consider the consequences on children and their families. Among the other recommendations:
- The regulation of chemicals must be based on evidence, but decisions to ban chemicals should be based on reasonable levels of concern rather than demonstrated harm.
- Any testing of chemicals should include the impact on women and children, including potential effects on reproduction and development.
- Chemicals should meet safety standards similar to those met by pharmaceuticals or pesticide residues on food.
- There should be post-marketing surveillance of chemicals, and the EPA must have the authority to remove a chemical if needed.
- Federal funding should be provided for research to prevent, identify and evaluate the effects of chemicals on children’s health.
Other groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have all independently recommended changes to the TSCA.