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States and Chemical Policy: Why states must continue to act

For more than a decade, state-level health and environmental interests and authorities have been powerful advocates for reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). Now that a reform bill is likely on its way to President Obama for signature, states are challenged to rise to a new, yet arguably even more critical, role in protecting citizens from toxic chemicals. 

The US EPA faces a daunting workload to overcome 40 years of ineffective policy. The sheer size of the inventory of chemicals on the market, the slow pace of chemical evaluation, and the dependence on fluctuations in funding will mean that policy will take time to translate into on-the-ground protections. What’s more, our nation’s health science and toxicological understanding are likely to move quickly, revealing emerging threats far faster than federal policy can address them.

Fortunately, the chemical regulatory expertise that states have cultivated will make them a worthy partner in protecting kids and other vulnerable populations. Under the new law, states retain the power to require information about the presence of chemicals in products and to move quickly to address chemicals that have not yet been identified by EPA for evaluation.

Our nation cannot afford to allow states to relinquish their responsibility for public health. We look forward to building an effective state-federal partnership.

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