Pediatricians urge better regulation of ‘toxic’ chemicals

A policy statement from the American Association of Pediatrics urges more stringent government oversight in chemical regulation, as well as amendments to the decades old Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to better protect pregnant women and children from substances for which the potential to cause developmental harm has not fully been determined.

Three studies last week were released indicating that children exposed to certain chemicals were found to have lower IQs in tests, and another study detailed anatomical problems found in boys who were exposed to phthalates before birth. Dr. Jerome Paulson of AAP’s Council on Environmental Health commented on the AAP’s opinion to press, and said that chemicals affect a baby or developing fetus in different ways than they do older children and adults.

Paulson criticized the backwards way safety of chemicals is determined in the US:

“Right now, a company manufactures a chemical and puts it out on the market and reaps the economic reward,” says Paulson. “And then the public is responsible for trying to figure out if there is any harm associated with the use of that chemical. And then it’s almost a criminal procedure, requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Since the law went into effect nearly four decades ago, only five substances have been regulated by it.