There are more than 80,000 different chemicals that are used commercially around the country but a watered down bill written decades ago has allowed companies to keep nearly 20 percent of them secret from the public to keep customers from getting scared off from purchasing products if they knew what was in them.
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1974 requires that all companies reveal all chemicals that they use in manufacturing their product. Unless, as the law says, they want to keep the chemicals secret to protect their profitability. Some law, huh? Sort of like saying that a sex offender has to register their address unless they want to continue molesting people.
So why assume that the chemicals the companies keep secret are harmful? Well for one, there would be little reason to hide chemicals that are safe. More importantly, more than 50 percent of the risk reports sent to the Environmental Protection Agency involve these secret chemicals.
In the last few years, companies have been taking even more advantage of the law and the EPA now says that 95 percent of all new chemicals introduced by companies are kept secret.
The EPA is equally to blame. The department has never made a real effort to weed out harmful chemicals from non-harmful ones and has only tested more than 200 of the 80,000 chemicals.
New EPA head Lisa Jackson talked a good game as she has on many other issues but action has yet to be seen. Jackson vowed to create a “Chemicals of Concern” list and reform that “outdated” 1976 law.