The federal government’s power to protect Americans from toxic chemicals in everyday products and manufacturing processes has been restricted for decades by weak laws and a 1991 court ruling that gutted the Toxic Substances Control Act. Most Americans believe that the chemicals in the products that they use and keep in their homes have been tested for safety and approved, but this isn’t the case.
Three main features of the bill, which President Obama is expected to sign, are:
- The 700 or so new chemicals that come on the market every year will have clear a safety bar first.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have the power to ban dangerous uses of known carcinogens such as asbestos and formaldehyde.
- The new law stops companies from being able to claim any information they submitted to the EPA, including secret health studies of chemicals, to be “confidential business information.” It allows only legitimate trade secrets, never health information, to be protected from public disclosure.