12/7/08

The Case for Chemical Oversight

As per Zane's post from yesterday, here is an excerpt from Toxic inaction: Why poisonous, unregulated chemicals end up in our blood, an article published in Harper's in October, 2007:
Europeans have recently decided to do something about all the untested chemicals that are ending up in their blood. ... a new E.U. chemical regulation called REACH—Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. REACH amounts to a revolution in how chemicals are managed, and in how production decisions around the world will be made from now on. Regulations set by the most powerful countries have quickly become, through trade, the international standard. And the European Union, with a market of 480 million people stretching across twenty-seven countries, is now significantly larger than the United States in both population and wealth

Indeed, Europe is now compelling other nations’ manufacturers to conform to regulations that are far more protective of people’s health than those in the United States. Europe has emerged not only as the world’s leading economic power but also as one of its moral leaders. Those roles were once filled by the United States.
Read the full article here.

Although the severely negative health effects of untested chemicals should be enough to warrant new oversight, even the libertarians among us should take this bit of information to heart: without at least adhering to European standards of chemical testing and regulation, not only will America become a dumping ground for toxic products, but American products won't be viable in the world market. As the recession deepens, some fear that any new regulation will slow economic recovery, but wise regulation can cure more than one disease at a time. Keeping American products internationally competitive and reducing future health care costs through prevention (i.e. keeping toxins out of our systems) can come in one neat package.

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