Certain Uses of ‘High Concern’ Chemicals Would Be Banned Under Endocrine Bill

Certain uses of chemicals deemed to pose a “high concern” for endocrine disruption would be banned under legislation introduced July 13 by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).

The Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Exposure Elimination Act (bill number not yet assigned) would establish a research program for endocrine disruptors and an expert panel to study up to 10 potential disruptors annually to rank them as posing high, substantial, minimal, or no concern. It also would mandate a federal exposure-reduction strategy for chemicals of concern.

The exposure-reduction strategy would make it unlawful to use a “high concern” chemical “in interstate commerce or in a manner that affects interstate commerce, unless the pathway to human exposure is mitigated before or in conjunction with that use.”

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic, block, or alter the function of hormones.

In a printed statement, Moran said: “When one in every six children has been diagnosed with some type of developmental disability, serious questions arise about whether something is wrong with our environment.

“We owe it to future generations to solve this puzzle. The bill introduced today will expedite research on endocrine-disrupting chemicals and allow that science, not politics, to guide policies.”

Research Program, Federal Strategy

The legislation would require the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to establish a research program within the National Toxicology Program, which the institute manages.

The research program would study the full range of potential human health effects of endocrine disruptors and design tests that are sufficiently sensitive to identify chemicals capable of disrupting the human endocrine system.

An expert panel convened by the NIEHS director would review as many as 10 chemicals a year to determine their endocrine effects and rank them as posing high, substantial, minimal, or no concerns.

The NIEHS director would prepare a list of the chemicals and the concern level they pose on a biennial basis.

Federal agencies with regulatory authority over any chemical on the list would be required to develop a strategy for reducing human exposure to it if the chemical was ranked with a minimal level of concern or higher.

Within two years of a chemical being designated as a high-concern endocrine disruptor, agencies with regulatory authority over it would have to develop regulations to reduce human exposure.

In a written statement, Kerry said: “We have a responsibility not just to inform Americans of the dangers, but to protect them from chemicals with the potential to cause serious illnesses from birth defects to cancer. It's just common sense.”

By Pat Rizzuto