The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that baby bottles and sippy cups must now be free of BPA, also known as bisphenol-A. This should represent a huge win for environmental and public health activists, who have long advocated for a complete ban of this toxic chemical from a number of household products, especially those that come into contact with babies and young children. ANA and state nurses associations have been part of these efforts for several years.
On Tuesday, May 24th ANA CEO Marla Weston, PhD, RN spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill aimed at highlighting the importance of toxic chemical reform in Congress. Organized by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF) coalition, the press conference also featured remarks from Safe Chemicals Act lead sponsor Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), actress Jessica Alba, Pediatrician Dr. Leo Trasande, and Andy Igrejas, SCHF Executive Director.
Surprisingly, this column is NOT about health system reform; rather it addresses another needed policy change affecting the health of this country – chemical policy reform. Since the inception of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), aimed at regulating the chemicals present in our everyday lives, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only been able to require testing on 200 of the more than 80,000 new chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and just five chemicals have been regulated under this law. Under the current law, chemicals enter our homes, workplaces, and communities with little or no testing for human toxicity. We have garnered substantial scientific evidence linking commonly used chemicals to some of our country’s most serious health problems, such as childhood cancers, asthma, impaired fertility, birth defects, and learning disabilities. ANA has been actively engaged in influencing needed changes at both the federal and state levels since 2006. In partnership with the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition, Congress will again be asked to overhaul TSCA. States act when Congress doesn’t.