Reproductive Health and the Environment

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was created in 1976 and has not been revised since. The Act grandfathered in 62,000 chemicals that were never tested.  In more than 30 years, the EPA has only required testing of about 200 of those chemicals, and has partially regulated only five.

For the 22,000 chemicals introduced into commercein the last 35 years, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

Under the current law, it is almost impossible for the EPA to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals, even those that are known to cause cancer or other serious health effects.

Recent science links exposure to toxic chemicals to a wide array of health risks. Cancer, learning disabilities, infertility, birth defects and other reproductive problems have all been associated with exposure to toxic chemicals; chemicals found in children's products, cleaning and personal care products, toys, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and auto interiors. The 1976 Act does not take into account any of this recent science.

It is now widely accepted that exposure to low doses of certain chemicals, particularly in the womb or during early childhood, can result in irreversible and lifelong impacts on health. Some toxic chemicals persist in the environment, sometimes for decades, and build up in the food chain and in our bodies. We now know that some chemicals can disturb our hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems. It’s time to revise the TCSA to give the EPA the authority to protect the public from toxic chemicals, based upon the most up-to-date science available.

A meaningful and effective reform of TSCA would:

  • Require all new or existing chemicals to be tested for safety, with the burden of proof on the
    chemical industry to demonstrate that a chemical is safe;
  • Establish safety standards for chemicals using the latest scientific knowledge to protect children
    and other vulnerable or over-exposed sub-populations;
  • Expand the public’s access to information on the health and safety of chemicals as well as where
    they are used and how people are exposed;
  • Provide EPA with clear and streamlined authority to reduce or eliminate the use of, or exposure
    to, unsafe chemicals, including expedited action for the worst chemicals;
  • Promote innovation and transition to safer alternatives, both less dangerous chemicals and
    non-chemical alternatives.

Some of the most widely used toxic chemicals include:

Information on the Toxic Substances Control Act

Toxic Chemicals and Their Effects on Reproductive Health

Information on Bisphenol A

Additional Resources