Jessica Alba: Toxic Chemical Law Should Change for Child Safety

The NPR health blog Shots covered a late-May Capitol Hill appearance by the actress Jessica Alba to advocate for reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 1976 law that governs how chemicals are used in products from water bottles to soaps to furniture.  In May, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement recommending that the government specifically amend this law to better protect children and pregnant women.

Alba appeared with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who has introduced a bill called "The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011" as a replacement to the Toxic Substances Control Act.  Announcing the bill in April, Lautenberg said, "The average American has more than 200 industrial chemicals in their body, including dozens linked to cancer and other health problems.  The shocking truth is that the current law does not require tests to ensure chemicals used in everyday household products are safe. The EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] does not have the tools to address dangerous substances and even the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws to assure consumers that their products are safe.  My 'Safe Chemicals Act' will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to separate the chemicals that help from the chemicals that hurt."

Alba, a mom who's expecting her second child, is now the celebrity spokeswoman for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families — a consortium of advocacy groups and companies ranging from the American Nurses Association to the Union of Concerned Scientists. They want more teeth in the federal law to tackle questions about chemicals like bisphenol A.

"Like many other moms out there, I try to buy safe products for my family, but that can't be the only solution. You can't hire a team of scientists to do your shopping for you," Alba said at the media briefing. "At some point the government has to step in and ensure that chemicals are safe before our children are exposed to them."


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