Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rare Bipartisan Bill to Make Household Goods Safer Becomes Law

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rare Bipartisan Bill to Make Household Goods Safer Becomes Law

Article excerpt

President Obama signed a bill today that will greatly strengthen the federal government's ability to regulate and monitor the chemicals found in American products from cleansers to clothing.

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is the first-ever update to the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 1970s relic, which environmental groups called "one of the worst environmental laws on the books," reports The Washington Post.

"Most Americans believe that when they buy a product at the hardware store or the grocery store, that product has been tested and determined to be safe," said Sen. Tom Udall (D) of New Mexico, one of the bill's chief sponsors, according to the Post. "But that isn't the case."

The bill, which Obama signed into law in a ceremony at the Oval Office, was named after late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey, who had worked to update TSCA for decades until his death in 2013, reported Lucy Schouten for The Christian Science Monitor. The Senate passed the legislation earlier this month in a voice vote, after it received rare bipartisan support in a tumultuous election cycle.

That point was not lost on the president, who, prior to signing the bill, commented that "even in the current polarized political process here in Washington, things can work," adding his hopes that "somewhere on the horizon we can make politics less toxic as well," reports the Post.

The new law creates the first safety standards on chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), formaldehyde, and styrene, which were previously unregulated. It will allow the Environmental Protection Agency to issue guidelines and deadlines to companies and require them to disclose ingredients.

In the past companies could offer what Richard Denison, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, calls a "trade secret" excuse to avoid disclosing what chemicals are actually in their products, says the Post. …

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