The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Monona Rossol, chemist and industrial hygienist, talks about the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act currently before Congress and what changes it calls for. She'll also take calls and answer questions about the safetly of household chemicals.

Do you have a question about the safety of household chemicals? Leave a comment below!


Monona Rossol

Comments [8]

Nancy Rutigliano from Nyack, NY

Why did the EPA/TSCA enforcement put it on you, Mary from Maryland, to do the leg work to reopen the Moore Business Forms investigation? I have always wondered if Appleton, Mead, Universal Paper, 3M, Boise Cascade and the other manufacturers of carbonless and thermal paper reported their toxic soup under TSCA. Did these manufacturers ever inform the regulatory agencies of the environmental impact when these two products are recycled with the mixed paper? If you google "thermal paper and recycling" you will learn this is not recyclable. If you go to an office supplier and look on the box of thermal paper there are no disposal instructions. Most people I know throw the thermal paper receipts in the recycling bin. There is your answer to the BPA in our blood and fat cells.

Aug. 06 2010 04:43 AM
Mary Kozlowski

I spoke on the show today about my experience with TSCA. I was told that I could gather records, letters, lawsuits and the like and then was referred to a Section of the TSCA law to try to have the investigation of the 7 toxic chemicals used in carbonless copy paper (Moore Business Forms) reopened.. I was told that the governement would then investigate and possibly impose the remainder of the intitially intended fine based on the perjured statements that were made.
I fear that the new laws will perhaps fall into the same state of ineffectiveness. Perhaps we need to have a law police. Perhaps if there were severe legal and financial ramifications for violations, then the abuse of the laws would stop.
I also feel that since this is the new millennium
that research on the synergistic effects of a combination of chemicals needs it's own legislation. If I plan on manufacturing a product and the combination of two chemicals increases the toxicity level by 10 or more times, I feel that I should "need to know" this information before I plan to make millions of dollars of profit. It is too late to address this issue after millions of users may have been affected. Let's get real on these issues.

Monona Rossol responds:
I share your frustration. With the old TSCA, we were powerless. There is a chance if TSCA is restructured as planned, that things will be better, not great, but better. And I think we have to also look at the numbers involved here. Only 900 chemicals have been evaluated for cancer worldwide and even fewer have been tested for other chronic hazards. But there are 143,000 chemicals already registered for use in the EU. The Chemical Abstract Service has registered it's 50 millionth chemical last year with more coming. A cancer study takes two years. Think on it. There is just no way you and I will live to see even the majority of the chemicals we use every day tested.

And that's testing just one chemical at a time. Synergisms between two or more chemicals have always been found only when there is a pile of bodies indicating something is wrong. They've never been found by studies before they cause harm. And that's how it is likely to continue to be. Hopefully, we will be the people who at least start the process of testing commercial chemicals for toxicity.

Aug. 04 2010 04:06 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from new york

jerry--thank you for asking the guest to weigh in. new yorkers have a small victory in the state senate passing S8129B, a moratorium on hydrofracking, last night. it provides temporary comfort that this can be studied further (the fed EPA is conducting a two-year cumulative impact study), but the new york state dept. of enviro conservation (whose conservation efforts are hitherto unknown--they'd rather simply permit lands for drilling) is dragging its heels on conducting a responsible study of the practice.

see more about new yorkers' efforts on behalf of its water at:

Monona Rossol responds:
That's great news. I didn't know about that. Thank you.

Aug. 04 2010 12:41 PM
dboy from nyc

Arsenic is a "natural" chemical.

Don't buy the corporate moniker "Natural™".

... in food or anything else, for that matter!

Monona Rossol responds:
I couldn't have said it better. And it is so great that people are finally seeing through that hype.

Aug. 04 2010 12:35 PM

A chemical is not a person. It is not entitled to a presumption of innocence -- at least not now. We'll see what the Roberts court decides in time, especially with the industry friendly 'liberals' Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

Monona Rossol responds:
Not only is it not entitled to a presumption of innocence, an untested chemical is not entitled to the "nontoxic" label which it often gets. That's really misleading. I'll be as interested as you are to see what this court does.

Aug. 04 2010 12:33 PM
Nancy Rutigliano from Nyack, NY

I was sensitized to formaldehyde in 1984 from heavy use of carbonless copy paper. It took 12 doctors and 4 years to get an accurate diagnosis. Today I am hearing about the BPA in carbonless and thermal receipts. Today I am also learning more and more about the toxic soup used to make receipts. I wonder now if the toluene di isocyanates, PFOA, alkyl phenolic resins and more really ruined my immune system. I have been pulling these paper items out of the hands of children for 20 years. I wish now that NIOSH, OSHA, the CPSC and the EPA had listened to us (meaning all of the women in offices who have been injured). This legislatioin is long overdue.

Monona Rossol responds:
I certainly agree. But remember if it passes, we still have decades to go before they get around to testing all the chemicals we use. This is a real mess.

Aug. 04 2010 12:24 PM
Jerry from Jersey

Can you ask her about Fracking Fluid used in natural gas.

Also BPA leeching?

Monona Rossol responds:
I answered the fracking question in the broadcast. The BPA leaching is also a serious issue. And this is one of the chemicals listed in the House version of that bill and which also have been identified by the head of EPA, Lisa Jackson, as a priority for testing.

Aug. 04 2010 12:18 PM
Jeb from Greenpoint

Have you asked any industry experts to discuss the effects of this legislation and what they have done to ensure consumer and environmental safety and health? This ongoing series has been painfully, acutely one-sided. REACH, for instance, has been disastrous for many industries and will likely lead to the loss of many natural ingredients.

Monona Rossol responds:
Certainly industry has a different opinion. And I must agree with you that REACH and even these bills are bad for business. But to be good for business, we would have to continue inventing chemicals at break neck speed and putting them untested into our products. And you've seen where that's gotten us. It's time to do something that's bad for business and good for people.

And I think you are wrong about the natural chemicals. I see many natural chemicals already being studied by the National Toxicology Program. Some have been found safe, some not. I was very happy when they finally studied 1,8-dihydroxyanthraquinone which is the active ingredient in a natural laxative called danthron. It turned out to be a potent carcinogen and FDA banned it.

Many experts, including myself, think all of the anthraquinones are carcinogens. And many are from natural sources. The bottom line is that there is no relationship between a chemical's origins (natural or synthetic) and its toxicity.

Aug. 04 2010 12:12 PM

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