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Pediatricians Urge Better Protection From Chemicals
Date:4/25/2011

scientist at University of California-Berkeley's School of Public Health.

"People think there's some general oversight of chemicals in the products and whether they're safe -- and that's not the case," Schwarzman added. "We need to switch the burden of proof, so manufacturers have proven safety and efficacy of their products before they're marketed."

Among the changes called for by the AAP:

  • Manufacturers should be responsible for developing information about chemicals before marketing.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should have the authority to demand additional safety data about a chemical and to limit or stop its marketing when a high degree of suspicion about safety exists.
  • The federal government should provide funding to evaluate the effects of chemicals on children's health. Research should include effects on reproduction and development.

Paulson said that proving a chemical is harmful beyond any reasonable doubt is "too high a standard when you're worried about safety and health . . . and so there should be a reasonable standard we can all agree on that only requires some evidence of harm or potential for harm."

An EPA spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

More than 80,000 chemicals are used in commerce in the United States, according to the paper, about 3,000 of which are considered as "high-production volume" because they are imported into the country in quantities of one million pounds or more each year. About 27 trillion pounds of chemicals were produced or imported into the United States a year in the early part of this decade, according to an EPA document.

Yet in the past 35 years, since the law was enacted, the TSCA has been used to regulate only five hazardous chemicals, including asbestos, dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

"The TSCA is so ineffective that it took a separate act of Congress to amend the TSCA so that the EPA could regulate
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