States should have a role in chemical regulation

February 16, 2010

While I agree with the author of "Reforming chemical safety laws is good for business," (Feb. 10) that new policy should help business grow, chemical safety laws should also protect pregnant women, children and workers. I also agree that it's high time the 34-year-old federal system be updated but not that federal law should "supersede" state law. States like Maryland passed laws to protect their citizens, and any changes to the federal system should not weaken those protections. Rather, federal policy should promote data and alternative assessment sharing between states in order to help level the playing field and facilitate business across state lines.

There's more that federal lawmakers can do to better protect Americans from toxic chemicals, which cause about 5 percent of childhood cancer, 10 percent of diabetes and 30 percent of childhood asthma. For example, reform should take immediate action on the most toxic substances and require testing for safety before chemicals are allowed in consumer products and cost Americans billions in health expenses. But the author of last week's op-ed fails to suggest specific ways in which protections can be improved, rather vaguely calling for "caution" and "prudence" to accompany reform. I think we should take caution and prudence with our children's health and pass strong, meaningful chemical safety reforms through Congress this year.

Jenny Levin, Baltimore

The writer is an environmental health associate with the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

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