Pediatricians push for stronger chemical regulation

    The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for stronger federal regulation of chemicals in consumer products.

    Under current law, new chemicals used in consumer products are assumed to be safe until proved otherwise. Pediatricians join the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association in pushing for changes so that companies will be required to study the health effects of chemicals before marketing products that contain them.

    Dr. Jerome Paulson with the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., wrote the group’s policy paper. He said it is time to update the 1976 law that governs the use of chemicals, keeping in mind standards for children and pregnant women.

    “Under the current Toxic Substance Control Act, companies do not need to do research on the potential health impacts of the chemicals that they’re marketing before they put them out on the market,” Paulson said.

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    Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, a board member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health and the medical director of the poison control center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said it is imperative to change the law.

    “If we want to market a drug or pharmaceutical, we have to do some studies to say that they’re safe,” Osterhoudt said. “But companies can enter hundreds of thousands of tons of chemicals into the country and the burden isn’t on them to prove that that chemical’s safe.”

    Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey introduced legislation last week that would update the 1976 Toxic Substance Control Act along these lines.

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