May 24 2012
Writing in Forbes, Angela Logomasini writes that the products you use each day may soon disappear from the market place because of an effort by the chemical nannies to place certain chemicals on “concern lists." Placement on these lists would require zero scientific evidence that the product is dangerous. She writes:
The crux of the problem is the focus on “hazard” rather than likely risks. “Hazard” simply represents the potential for danger given specific circumstances and/or exposures. For example, water is hazardous because excessive consumption can produce fatal “water intoxification” or hyponatraemia. But we don’t need to regulate it or place it on a “concern list.”
Likewise, we have many “hazardous” products in our homes—everything from cleaning supplies to bug spray to olive oil (which can make you slip if spilled on the floor). Each can be a hazard, but the risk depends on how we use them. Fortunately, we can benefit from each of these products while managing the risks to keep them low.
Yet bureaucrats at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are developing a list of “chemicals-of-concern” based largely on the hazardous quality of chemicals. That way, they don’t have to demonstrate that the chemicals actually pose real concerns—enough to justify regulations under the nation’s chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Logomasini nails it when she explains that under this new system the EPA won't have to demonstrate a chemical poses a real concern. That's been a problem for the EPA--an agency desperate to serve their pals in the environmental and public health advocacy world but who are constantly stammered by the annoying requirement that they actually find the scientific evidence that links chemicals to diseases or shows them to be harmful to humans.
Take the case of BPA--a perfectly safe chemical so demonized by these groups that a junk-science supported cottage industry cropped up of BPA-free products. On BPA, the EPA has acted responsibly; consistently stating that BPA is harmless and has been ruled safe by multiple, well-respected scientific bodies. The EPA has even funded their own studies on BPA. In the most recent EPA-funded study, humans were fed large quantities of food from cans lined with BPA resulting in very low and undetected levels of BPA in the volunteers' blood. In other words: BPA is safe. Despite this and the other studies, the EPA is under extreme pressure to place an all-out ban on BPA and they are constantly being accused by the chemical nannies of ignoring the health of Americans.
Under this new system, harm would not have to be demonstrated. The EPA would simply be free to characterize certain chemicals as a concern without having to go through all that messy, time consuming scientific research. That's a win for the chemical nannies and for eager regulators at the EPA. But it's a tragic loss for the American public who will soon face limited choices, higher prices, and without doubt, products that are less safe.