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Toxics Bill Fails the Mom Test

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What do shower curtains, cleaning products, couches, crafting supplies, and cooking pans have in common? Untested chemicals. Store shelves are full of products that contain untested chemicals, products whose ingredients may or may not harm the brains, hormones, lungs, metabolism and the who-knows-what-else of our children. These are not obscure products. They are the things we purchase and use each day in our homes.

Our current chemical law does not protect our health. Reform of the outdated and ineffective Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is one of the top priorities of moms across the nation.

In February, Representatives on the House Energy and Commerce Committee circulated a "discussion draft" of a bill that purported to improve our broken chemical regulatory system -- the one that allows untested chemicals onto the consumer market. Indeed, the system desperately needs to be fixed. After all, any system that allows pregnant moms and children routinely to be exposed to unknown chemical hazards is a broken system.

The problem is, this bill doesn't fix it.

I could smell trouble within the first paragraph. The bill's objective, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee fact sheet, is to "improve public confidence in the safety of chemicals produced and used in the United States, and to facilitate interstate commerce in American-made chemicals and the products that contain them."

I'm sorry, but improving public confidence is not my top priority. Improving public health is.

This discussion draft, known as the Chemicals in Commerce Act, or CICA, actually undermines public health and takes a step backward from protecting pregnant women and children from exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products. CICA does nothing to prevent untested and unsafe chemicals from entering our products, our air, and our bodies. As a mom, I was disappointed to see our children's health so flagrantly ignored.

Moms Clean Air Force sent a letter of opposition to the House of Representatives, along with many other health groups. But the discussion draft didn't die.

Since then, some changes to the bill have been made. But the changes aren't nearly enough to win the support of moms. Larded with chemical industry giveaways, CICA still focuses on increasing the confidence of Americans in chemical safety. What happened to increasing actual chemical safety?

Instead of protecting the profits of the chemical industry, moms and dads want to protect our families from unsafe chemicals and the numerous diseases -- such as asthma, childhood leukemia, childhood brain cancer, learning and developmental disabilities, and infertility -- linked to those chemicals.

This bill still doesn't pass the MOM test. And until our children's health is given more weight than public "confidence" in our chemical industry, it won't.

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