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Senate Bill On Chemical Safety For Consumers Needs Reform

Take a moment to think about all the bottles in your home that contain chemicals. Think about your beauty products, cleaning products, air fresheners, home improvement products and liquid art supplies. Though Americans do not ordinarily associate these bottles with risk of illness or injury, they are indeed dangerous products given the correct context. When their contents are spilled and subsequently inhaled, exposed to skin, swallowed or otherwise improperly handled, some can cause serious illness, injury and even death.

A bill currently being considered in the Senate seeks to address some of the hazards associated with the toxic chemical makeup of many household products. The bill is entitled the Toxic Substances Control Act, though it is also currently referred to as the Chemical Safety Improvement Act. The bill is still within the control of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works. Before it is placed before the entire Senate for debate and consideration, it needs to be significantly reformed in order to effectively achieve its aims.

The main concern that Americans should have with the bill as currently proposed is that it virtually eliminates the ability of injured persons to sue negligent manufacturers for illnesses, injuries and deaths caused by chemicals found in household products. Though the bill does employ new federal review standards, these preventative measures will do nothing to help people who are ultimately injured by household products despite their existence.

The media, safety experts and the public have learned time and again that employing baseline review standards can be beneficial for safety overall, but accidents will not be eliminated by their institution. Injured persons need to retain the right to sue those who have harmed them should their injuries occur despite the existence of federal standards aimed at preventing such injuries.

Protecting the public from toxic chemicals commonly found in household products is a goal worthy of pursuit. However, the bill eliminating the right of injured persons to sue when toxic exposure ultimately harms them anyway needs to be reformed before it should be considered at all.

Source: Washington Times, “Proposed chemical safety bill not so safe,” Paul Samakow, June 10, 2013