Pediatricians Seek Stiffer Regulation of Chemicals
Pediatrician Group Says Current Legislation Does Not Adequately Protect Children, Pregnant Women
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“Unfortunately, because of the inadequacy of the overall system, parents and others cannot assume that ‘because it is on the market it must have been approved by the government' and it must be safe,” he says. “Individuals need to become advocates for change and demand pre-market testing, post-market surveillance and a system managed by EPA to collect this data and make decisions about the safety of chemicals.”
Andy Igrejas, national campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in Washington, D.C, a coalition seeking to overhaul TSCA, says that the pediatricians are a little late to this game.
But Igrejas remains optimistic about the passage of TSCA reform on a national level. He says there is a “good chance” that there will be some movement on the legislation in the Senate before year’s end.
Not everyone agrees.
“The last thing we need to do in a slowly recovering economy is to give an already over-cautious EPA more regulatory powers to fix a problem that does not exist,” says Jeff Stier, the director of risk analysis at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.
“Children are not falling ill from exposure to low levels of chemical,” he says. “Most measures of childhood health have improved dramatically at the very time new chemicals have been developed and used.”
TSCA Overhaul Long Overdue
Even some of those in favor of TSCA reform are not overly optimistic about TSCA reform.
The new statement is “very timely, but there is so much opposition to TSCA reform from a political standpoint,” says Sean Palfrey, MD, a professor of clinical pediatrics and public health at Boston University.
TSCA reform is “two-plus decades overdue,” he says.
Palfrey does not see the legislation passing anytime soon but hopes he is wrong.
“It is great that the Academy has put together this statement because it is right for children,” he says. “Europe, Canada, and other countries are far, far ahead of us in terms of making these regulations.”
Palfrey says that “parents need to understand that this country is putting out all sorts of compounds and chemicals into the environment and nobody knows if they are safe or not,” he says.
“We try to eat safely, cook safely, and live safely, but studies have shown that these chemicals are getting into our bodies as mothers, fathers, children, and fetuses and may be causing an increase in asthma, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other illnesses,” he says.
“Don’t tilt against windmills,” he says. “Vaccines have been studied extraordinarily carefully, and we are not paying attention to the many chemicals that are used commercially,” he says.
“Wash your food very carefully, buy products whose safety you do know and urge others who are influencing your air, water, and food to think about your children and work with state and federal representatives to make this a safer country than it is,” Palfrey says.