Statement by Erik Olson, Senior Attorney, NRDC Health program

WASHINGTON (July 13, 2005) -- U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Jim Jeffords (I-Vt), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced the "Kids-Safe Chemicals Act of 2005," a bill hailed by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) as a major step forward toward protecting people, and especially children, from the devastating effects of toxic chemicals.

The following is a statement by Erik Olson, senior attorney in NRDC's health program:

"For decades public health has been threatened by toxic chemicals. Today marks a highpoint in the struggle to protect our kids and families from these poisons, with the introduction of the first major legislation to offer a realistic hope of keeping our kids safe from chemicals.

"While no one knows for sure exactly how many chemicals are in commerce in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there may be nearly 80,000 of them. Yet only a tiny fraction of these chemicals has been tested for toxicity, according to scientists. Even when we know which chemicals are toxic, there are gaping holes in our laws that allow them to continue to be sold, used in consumer products, and spewed into our environment -- threatening our health.

"Unfortunately, the nation's major toxics law -- the Toxic Substances Control Act -- has been a miserable flop. It was gutted by a 1991 court decision in a lawsuit brought by the asbestos industry, and has never been fully implemented by EPA. That is why we are thrilled that this new bill will kick-off the national debate about how to fix our laws so that we can keep our kids -- and everyone else -- safe.

"The legislation introduced today would establish a requirement that all toxic chemicals must be tested and found to be safe for infants, children, pregnant women, other members of the public, and the environment. The bill also will encourage 'green chemistry' centers to develop new safe chemicals to replace old toxins.

"Even though certain details will need to be hammered out during the legislative process, NRDC endorses the bill's important objectives and basic approach."