The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) website has information about the recently passed Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. This law replaces the Toxic Substances Control Act which, as interpreted by the courts, constrained federal regulators from banning even such toxic substances as asbestos, with its well-known and serious health hazards. Now companies are required to submit new chemicals to a review process before they enter into commerce. The huge, unknown number of chemicals in current use (some estimates are in the neighborhood of 80,000) is to be prioritized and, over time, chemicals with potentially greater hazards will also be subjected to review. In concert with private industry (including the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart) the EDF is working to reduce public exposure to priority chemicals such as formaldehyde. Private companies may be far out in front of government regulation in their actions in the marketplace. Whether persuaded by non-government organizations such as the EDF, acting in their own interest to market to the concerned public, or seeking to avoid future liability, companies have already made significant progress in substituting safer ingredients for some of the priority hazardous chemicals. The example of Walmart is notable because its market power constrains many consumer product companies to reformulate the products they sell throughout the country.
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