WASHINGTON – In a crowded Senate hearing room, the law governing toxic chemical production and use was explored and determined to be inadequate to protect families and children from health effects linked to toxic chemical exposure.

Witnesses from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control, as well as a concerned mother who was tested for levels of toxic chemicals in her body during pregnancy, called for the nation’s toxic chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to be reformed to provide greater protection to families and children.

Audio of Hearing

Listen to the Senate Hearing Feb 4, 10:00 am (EST) with the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health as they examine current science on public exposures to toxic chemicals. Audio feed courtesy of Pacifica Radio Network and Free Speech Radio News.

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In opening remarks, Senator Frank Lautenberg said “the American public is a living breathing repository for chemical substances,” and that as a result of inadequate testing of toxic chemicals, children have become test subjects.

“Our children should not be used as guinea pigs,” said Senator Lautenberg before announcing his intention to introduce new safer chemical legislation to reform TSCA soon.

Senator Lautenberg said his new bill would give the EPA the tools it needs to protect the public from unsafe chemicals by requiring testing of all chemicals in commerce and collecting data about harm to human health before chemicals can be added to consumer products.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of families and children,” said Lautenberg, who noted that he keeps a picture of his ten grandchildren in his mind every day he goes to work.

Stating that she didn’t want her infant son or anyone’s child to be a scientific experiment, Molly Jones Gray of Seattle, Washington testified before the Senate panel about test results showing her body was contaminated by toxic chemicals during pregnancy, including high levels of mercury and bisphenol A.

“Safe until proven harmful isn’t good enough for me or for my baby,” said Gray. Despite doing all she could to have a health pregnancy from eating organic foods to avoiding plastics and phthalates in personal care products, Gray said “parents can’t protect our developing babies from the powerful influence of toxic chemicals.”

Gray was a participant in a first-of-its-kind biomonitoring study by Washington Toxics Coalition and Commonweal that tested blood and urine from pregnant women during their second trimester of pregnancy and found their bodies contaminated with chemicals found in a wide variety of consumer products.

Andy Igrejas, National Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said

“We’re excited this debate is finally underway in this Congress. We’re hopeful for legislation that would take action on the worst chemicals, require basic information for all chemicals, and ensure chemicals meet a safety standard that protects the most vulnerable.”

Other witnesses who testified at the hearing included Stephen Owens, Assistant Administrator, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, EPA; Henry Falk M.D., M.P.H., Acting Director, National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, CDC; John Stephenson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, GAO; Linda Birnbaum Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S., Director, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences; Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group; Charles McKay MD FACMT, FACEP, ABIM, Division of Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hartford Hospital.

To view the webcast of the hearing, go to the US Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works website