Did EPA drop the ball with toxic chemicals in children’s products?

With little fanfare or media coverage, on July 21st the U.S. Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency issued an evaluation of the EPA’s Voluntary Chemical Evaluation Program pilot – and gave the program a thumbs-down.The report – and accompanying summary from Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. himself – noted that the EPA’s Voluntary Chemical Evaluation Program pilot under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) did not achieve its goals. These included creating a process to assess and report on the safety of chemicals for children.

“Children eat more, drink more, and breathe more than adults in proportion to their body weight,” said Elkins. “Children’s exposures to environmental pollutants are often different from those of adults because they engage in different activities, such as playing on floors and in soil and mouthing of their hands, toys, and other objects that can bring them into greater contact with environmental pollutants.”

Although the EPA regulates chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act , the same regulations don’t provide the agency with any leeway to act in the case of children’s health issues. The report said that the EPA has not demonstrated it can achieve children’s health goals with a voluntary program. The report also detailed how the toy industry had chosen not to voluntarily collect and submit information and EPA’s decision not to exercise its regulatory authorities.

The report recommended that the EPA design and implement a new product stewardship-oriented process to assess the safety of chemicals to children.

One wonders if this recommendation will carry any weight with the EPA to dive into this obvious hotbed and act. Without a clear directive to do so and the tough political pushback from the Congress, it’s perhaps a coin toss whether the agency will tackle this serious issue or not.

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2 Responses

  1. Great post and it illustrates the point that consumers must educate themselves to protect their families. Reading your blog is a great place to start.

  2. Maybe it would be better to not allow any product to be made until the manufacturer’s children are exposed to their products. Self monitoring … Great information

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