(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
I would like to thank Senator Lautenberg for holding this hearing on the public health threats posed by exposure to toxic chemicals.
The fact is that every one of us – and every man, woman and child in every state in our nation -- is exposed to toxic chemicals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s fourth national biomonitoring report, which came out in December 2009, paints a chilling picture. This report measured 212 chemicals in people’s bodies -- 75 of which had never before been measured in the U.S. population. The new chemicals included bisphenol A and perchlorate.
The CDC found that 90% of those sampled were exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics and epoxies -- the National Toxicology Program has stated that BPA has “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in…infants and children at current [levels of] human exposures to bisphenol A.”
And the CDC found that 100% of the people they sampled -- every single one -- had detectable levels of perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that can harm the development of the nervous system and that poses special dangers for pregnant women and children.
When EPA Administrator Jackson appeared before the Environment and Public Works Committee in December 2009 to discuss the Administration’s principles for reforming the nation’s toxic chemical regulation laws, she delivered a serious message. I want to quote from her testimony:
“The public is turning to government for assurance that chemicals that are ubiquitous in our economy, our environment and our bodies have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks have been eliminated. But, under existing law, we cannot give that assurance. Restoring confidence in our chemical management system is a top priority for me and a top environmental priority for the Obama Administration.”
The Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan agency, has put EPA’s chemical regulation program on its “High Risk” programs because “EPA has failed to develop sufficient chemical assessment information to limit public exposure to many chemicals that may pose substantial health risks.”
I agree with Administrator Jackson – fixing the nation’s flawed system for regulating toxic chemicals must be a top priority and is in this Committee.
We have a responsibility to America's families to ensure that the chemicals in the environment and in the products they use every day have been scientifically tested and that they and their children are not put at risk.
This Committee has the opportunity to strengthen our nation's toxics laws to ensure that evaluations on the safety of chemicals are made based on science and public health and that all people - especially the most vulnerable - are protected.
I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses today, to get their views on the importance of the best ways to address the potential health risks from exposure to dangerous chemicals.
These hearings are part of our larger effort to reform our toxics laws and I am working closely with Senator Lautenberg to craft legislation to address these issues.
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