Part IV -- Stemming the Tide of Toxic Chemicals: What the Obama Administration Must Do Now

In the months after last November’s election, NRDC’s health program developed a list of more than 50 steps that the new administration needed to undertake quickly. Many of these steps address problems in the Environmental Protection Agency’s core chemical decision-making program, the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

Our recommendations were proven timely when in January the Government Accountability Office identified the IRIS program as “high-risk for waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement or in need of broad-based transformation,” substantially raising its profile as a troubled area of governmental decision-making.

We believe there are similar amounts of work to be done with Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For example, NRDC has already initiated and will continue to pursue:

  • Action to press the FDA to revisit its finding that the presence of Bisphenol A in food and food packaging is safe.  NRDC has already petitioned the FDA to ban the use of BPA as a food additive, and continues to provide expert comments on the recent scientific literature concerning BPA.
  •  Oversight of the CPSC’s evaluation of the safety of phthalates, and enforcing the ban enacted by Congress on the use of six phthalates in toys and other children’s products (the ban is supposed to take effect February 10, 2009). (NRDC has already filed and won a lawsuit seeking to overturn the CPSC’s interpretation for violating the law that Congress passed and will avail itself of every opportunity to alter the CPSC’s implementation of this important new law.)
  •  Updating and improving FDA’s assessment of the safety and effectiveness of two widely used anti-microbial substances that are also endocrine disruptors, Triclocarban and Triclosan, and the CPSC’s proposed furniture flammability standard.

NRDC will work to ensure that the agencies complete these tasks in a manner that is health-protective and scientifically credible. In addition to working directly with the agencies on these issues, we are also assisting key members of Congress and their staff on oversight of these issues, including, where appropriate, suggesting necessary hearings and potential expert testimony.

Next up: Bringing more science expertise into the toxic chemical reform process.

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