You are hereThink Progress: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Fights Regulations On Chemicals Linked to Penis Deformations, Birth Defects

Think Progress: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Fights Regulations On Chemicals Linked to Penis Deformations, Birth Defects

-By Joe Romm

June 10, 2011- Yesterday, TP Green reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dashed off to Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, telling him to “block the regulation of extremely toxic chemicals in consumer plastics”:

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the dangers of such chemicals, the chamber letter declares that that EPA “lacks the sound regulatory science needed to meet the statutory threshold for a restriction or ban of the targeted chemicals.”

A wide body of scientific research has linked these chemicals, including phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), to declining birth rates, stillbirths, and an increasing number of birth defects. Many of the chemicals under review for increased regulation have already been banned in Europe and Canada.

In fact, studies have shown that these plastic chemicals are directly linked to an alarming rate of male genital birth defects such as hypospadias, a condition in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis. A report by the Center for American Progress’ Reese Rushing details many other risks associated with the chemicals slated for regulation.

Below, Climate Progress reposts a summary of that report:  “Reproductive Roulette: Declining Reproductive Health, Dangerous Chemicals, and a New Way Forward.”

By CAP’s Reece Rushing

This presentation is a self-guided slideshow that provides data on reproductive health and dangerous chemicals. Charts and graphs show that reproductive health is declining as human exposure to dangerous chemicals is rising. The presentation also recommends reforms to promote chemical safety.

View the full presentation (pdf)

Fact Sheet: Dangerous Chemicals and Declining Reproductive Health

Reproductive health in the United States is headed in the wrong direction on a host of indicators. Fertility problems, miscarriages, preterm births, and birth defects are all up. These trends are not simply the result of women postponing motherhood. In fact, women under 25 and women between 25 and 34 reported an increasing number of fertility problems over the last several decades. Nor are reproductive health problems limited to women. Average sperm count appears to be steadily declining, and there are rising rates of male genital birth defects such as hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra does not develop properly. Part I of this presentation gives an overview of the current state of reproductive health.

As reproductive health has declined, chemical production has increased dramatically. the number of chemicals registered for commercial use now stands at 80,000—a 30 percent increase since 1979. Americans are exposed to these chemicals in a variety of ways, including through industrial releases, contaminated food, household products and cosmetics, and workplaces where chemicals are used. Tests of blood and urine confirm rising and widespread exposure to a chemical soup of metals, pesticides, plasticizers, and other substances, many of which are dangerous to reproductive health. Young children are often exposed to significantly higher levels of these chemicals than adults. Part II of this presentation explains this problem and spotlights three chemical groups—phthalates, BPA, and PBDEs—that are linked to reproductive health problems and are present in the daily lives of all Americans.

Our chemical safety laws do not provide adequate protection from these chemical groups and other dangerous substances. Indeed, the Government Accountability Office recently added chemical safety to its “high risk list” of areas that should be addressed immediately. Chemical manufacturers are not required to conduct pre-market testing of industrial chemicals or chemicals used in cosmetics and household products. Rather, human beings in the real world end up as guinea pigs. Government agencies responsible for chemical safety also lack the authority and resources necessary to evaluate safety and set strong standards against dangerous chemicals.

The prospects for addressing this situation fortunately appear to be brightening. Congress took a first step last year following the discovery of contaminated Chinese-made toys, passing legislation that requires pre-market testing of children’s products sold in the United States and bans lead and phthalates from being contained in such products. Legislation has also been introduced to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers, and there will likely be a renewed push for the Kids Safe Chemical Act, which would reform the ineffectual Toxic Substances Control Act. Part III of this presentation offers recommendations for modernizing chemical safety. Implementing these recommendations would reduce human exposure to dangerous chemicals, which in turn promises to lift reproductive health.



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