Back in the 1970s, the United States Congress passed sweeping laws, aimed at cleaning up the air and water, protecting wildlife, and keeping toxins out of household products. That last one – called the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, got a huge update this year.
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The original law from ’76 gave the EPA the authority to ban dangerous ingredients in products. While loads of toxins were banned, around 55,000 chemicals were grandfathered in, and several new ones have yet to be studied. The law did not sit well with scientists or businesses alike.
The law left the EPA unable to control several known carcinogens, such as asbestos. The agency had previously banned it, but a federal court overturned the ruling. That left state governments to pass a mismatch patchwork of laws and regulations that left businesses with a bad taste.
“The chemicals selected will drive EPA’s agenda for the next several years…EPA must consider all forms of asbestos in this initial list of chemicals it acts on.”
– California Sen. Barbara Boxer, to the EPA in August
The updated to the law reduces the state’s ability to oversee such rulings, while simultaneously giving the EPA priority ti regulate carcinogens. The EPA was furthermore tasked with choosing 10 chemicals by December 2106 to evaluate and possibly regulate if needed.
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