Chemicals Not Always Tested For Safety

By Kristie Turck •  Updated: 03/27/20 •  3 min read

Chemicals Not Always Tested For Safety

Current U.S. law does not require or force chemical manufacturers, including those that make plastics, to prove their chemicals are safe before including them in consumer goods such as baby products.

Amazing as that may seem, consider that there are an estimated 87,000 to 100,000 chemicals in commercial production [1].

How Can This Be?

In 1976 Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Unfortunately, while doing so it also “grandfathered in” approximately 62,000 chemicals already in production, incuding BPA (bisphenol-A) [2], declaring them to be safe even though the vast majority of those chemicals had never been studied or tested for safety.

Since then many more chemicals have come into production with few being subjected to any significant scrutiny by the EPA.

The bottom line is that it is not required to prove a chemicals safety before, or after, its release on the consumer market.

So Who Does Study This Stuff?

Manufacturers do. And so, in some cases, does the government – as well as universities. And this is where it gets interesting.

A review of the BPA literature by Saal and Hughes shows that the source of funding for a given study is highly correlated to the findings. 11 of 11 industry-funded studies say don’t worry, there are no “significant effects” of low-dose BPA. However, 94 of 104 (90%) government-funded published studies say there are [3].

So the next time you hear that BPA is safe – you know what they say – consider the source.

Originally written August 13, 2008


[1] Paul Goettlich. Get Plastic Out Of Your Diet[2] Environmental Working Group. Chemicals Polluting Kids[3] Saal and Hughes. An Extensive New Literature Concerning Low-Dose Effects of Bisphenol A Shows the Need for a New Risk Assessment

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