On March 4, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held hearings on persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBTs). As you may know, PBTs include many of the most dangerous substances on the planet, including dioxin, mercury, lead, and cadmium.
The hearing was notable because it demonstrated that members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — agree that PBTs pose serious threats to human health and the environment. A great moment was when Representative Bobby Rush mentioned that he and other members of Congress had received an extraordinary amount of mail leading up to the hearings. We can all take credit for that!
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ action alerts resulted in 1,655 people sending 5,366 letters to members of Congress before these crucial hearings. Many thousands more came from other organizations and individuals. A big Thank You to all who already sent a message to Congress. (It’s not too late to send one now.)
Another important moment came when Ted Studevant, Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology, made it very clear that phasing out PBTs is possible. His state has already demonstrated success in limiting the use of mercury and lead, and banning the toxic flame retardant decaDBE. Washington State provides a common-sense model for how toxic chemical regulation could work nationally. Linda Greer from NRDC caught Congress’s attention by linking breast cancer research, PBTs, and her own survival story.
“I was one of the lucky ones. My breast cancer was caught early and I am doing well. But as I do my work every day, I think of my daughter—who received whatever contaminants I had in my breast milk when I nursed her—and of her generation. . . We must protect the next generation by creating responsible and effective chemical policy today.”
Still wondering why PCBs matter? Here are some blogs that will get your blood boiling:
- Why persistence matters: The case for restricting PBTs, by Nena Baker, author of The Body Toxic.
- States write the playbook on toxic chemicals: Now Congress should join the team, from the Washington Toxics Coalition.
- Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic: Why Congress needs to phase out PBTs now, by Linda Greer, Natural Resources Defence Fund.
- America’s most wanted toxic chemicals: PBTs, by SCHF’s Andy Igrejas.
- Go to the House web site to listen to an audio recording or read the excellent testimony from Ted Studevant, NRDC’s Linda Greer, and others.
Next hearing is March 9: Senate Environment and Public Works hearings on TSCA and business. Check back to www.saferchemicals.org for the latest.