President Obama signed into law today a bill to improve the way toxic substances are regulated and allowed into products that enter our homes, schools, and workplaces. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is the first amendment in 40 years to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA).
During the White House signing ceremony, the President explained why the new law is needed:
“…the system was so complex, so burdensome that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos –a known carcinogen that kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year. I think a lot of Americans would be shocked by that.” [Here’s a one-minute video of him saying it.]
There are tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce, but asbestos was the only toxic material the President called out by name at the event. That’s because the “magic mineral” became the poster child for TSCA’s failure. Now starts a new chapter on how chemicals are regulated in the U.S.
Next week, Kim Krisberg will provide a full report from Linda Reinstein who attended the signing ceremony. She and Doug Larkin founded 12 years ago the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). After leaving the White House today, Linda told me:
“Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine ADAO’s work would be given such esteemed recognition.”
With the shout out by President Obama, let’s set our sights on turning asbestos from the poster child of TSCA’s failure into the hallmark of success for this new chemical safety law.