Toxic chemicals used in everyday products such as household cleaners, clothing and furniture have been linked to serious illnesses, including cancer, infertility, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Under current law, only a small fraction of chemicals used in these products have been reviewed for safety.
A bill that Congress sent President Barack Obama on Tuesday would set new safety standards for asbestos and other dangerous chemicals, including formaldehyde, styrene and BPA, that have gone unregulated for decades. The bill would update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate new and existing chemicals against a new risk-based safety standard that includes considerations for vulnerable people such as children and pregnant women.
The EPA and advocacy groups have identified a number of chemicals as potentially harmful. The proposed law would give EPA authority to evaluate whether they should remain on the market.
The chemicals include:
— Trichloroethylene (TCE): Used in dry cleaning, protective coating and industrial degreasers. Linked to cancer, birth defects.
— Methylene chloride/Dichloromethane (DCM): Used in paint strippers and removers, spray paint and insect sprays. Linked to cancer, headaches and dizziness.
— Tetrabromobenzoate (TBB). Used in upholstered furniture and some electronics. Linked to potential reproductive and developmental toxicity and endocrine disruption.
— Trisdichloropropylphosphate (TDCPP). Used in polyurethane foams as a flame retardant in sofas, chairs, baby strollers, car seats and other products. Linked to liver and kidney cancer.
— N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP). Used in agricultural chemicals, paint and cleaning products. Linked to birth defects, fetal development problems.
— Tetrabisphenol A (TBBPA). Used as flame retardant in electronics and circuit boards. Possible carcinogen.
— Bromopropane. Used in aerosol adhesives, asphalt, synthetic fibers, dry cleaning. Possible carcinogen.
— Dioxane. Used in inks, adhesives, resins, waxes and dyes. Possible carcinogen.
— Phthalates. Used in cosmetics, textiles, food packaging, nail polishes, wood varnishes, lacquers. Linked to reproductive and developmental harm, asthma.
— Formaldehyde. Used in resins, fabrics and automobile components, including transmissions, door panels, axles and brake shoes. Possible carcinogen.
— Styrene. Used in plastics, resins, and Styrofoam. Possible carcinogen.
— Bisphenol A (BPA). Used in plastic water bottles, sports equipment, CDs and DVDs. Possible health risks, especially to infants and young children.