US Senate approves chemicals regulation bill

Article by Staff Writer

THE US SENATE has approved a bill to overhaul laws governing toxic chemicals, in a move to regulate for the first time some 64,000 chemicals found in everyday objects.

The bill, which will replace the 40-year old Toxic Substances Control Act, was passed by Senators in a voice vote yesterday, following widespread approval in a lower house vote of 403 to 12 last month. The legislation will now pass for final approval to President Barack Obama, who is not expected to provide any opposition.

The new rules will require testing and regulation of thousands of chemicals already found in everyday products including detergents and toys. Details of the agreement include: a risk-based safety standard for all new and existing chemicals, with a “worst-first” approach to substance prioritisation. There will be expanded authority for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require the generation of health and safety data for untested chemicals, while reducing “unnecessary” animal testing. The EPA will also need to deem a new chemical safe before it’s allowed to enter the market.

The authors of the legislation say the law improves on the existing one, by lifting restrictions that prevent the EPA from regulating some 64,000 chemicals already on in the market.

“Our existing law is so broken, the EPA hasn't even been able to regulate asbestos,” said Tom Udall, the US Senator who wrote the bill. “That's why I'm working hard to overhaul the law and put a cop on the beat to restrict the use of hazardous chemicals if they pose a risk.”

Article by Staff Writer

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