11/15/2008 - The otherwise-routine reauthorization of the Consumer Product Safety Commission this year demonstrated the environmental movement's growing clout over the chemical industry. The new law, advocates say, reverses long-standing practice because it requires the chemical industry to prove the safety of some products before they reach the public.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which President Bush signed on August 14, contained a provision banning three types of phthalate chemicals from products for children. Congress thus bypassed the safety commission and other regulatory agencies, which normally require a long and difficult review of scientific evidence before restricting a chemical's use.
The act was a major victory for environmental groups, especially the Breast Cancer Fund, said Andy Igrejas, manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts' environmental health campaign, because it demonstrated the effectiveness of their tactics and enshrined their favored "precautionary principle" into law. "Where there is enough evidence of harm, while we get to the bottom of it, we should err on the side of precaution," he said.
Read the full article Environmental Groups Get In Some Target Practice at National Journal's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Environmental Health Project (Kid-Safe Chemicals) on PewHealth.org.