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Friday, January 29, 2010

Time to Lab Test Chemicals

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1974 and has not kept up with the time. Of the 80,000 chemical substances in use  it has test only 200 and regulated only 5. The United Steelworkers joined forces with the Learning Disabilities Association, the Cancer Institute, and the Pennsylvania Nurses Association to call for reforms of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act needed to ensure the health and safety of America's workers and families.

The 5 substances that TSCA mandates regulations for are all known carcinogens: Asbestos, Hexavalent Chromium, Vinyl Chloride, Trichloethylene, Methyene Chloride and Dicloromethene. 

Since 1976 chronic and terminal diseases have increased: Leukemia +20%; Breast Cancer 40% with a risk factor increase from 1 in 10 women to 1 in 8 women; and asthma +200%. Additionally, major increases in conceiving and making pregnancy, birth defects and autism have been reported.

Chronic conditions now result in 70% of all deaths and 75% of all health costs. Direct health care costs from cancer alone, in 2008, was $93.2 Billion of the total health care costs in the US that amounted to $304 Billion.

A recent report reveals the inadequacies of the TSCA and urges an update. As medical science continues to investigate these medical conditions, it is critically important that Congress updates the TSCA and requires better regulation 

Dr. Maryann Donovan, associate director of research services for the University of Pittsburgh's Cancer Institute and director of the Center for Environmental Oncology stated, "It's not a matter of whether we test toxic chemicals. It's a matter of how we test them. Right now we test them in the bodies of our children, our consumers, our workers, ourselves. It's time to start testing chemicals in the lab, and to take action before anyone is harmed." 

Click here to read more about toxic exposures and workers' compensation.