Chemical Safety Legislation Backed by ANA, Physicians

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Dangerous chemicals in consumer products and the environment that are largely unregulated are posing unacceptable risks to human health, ANA told U.S. Senate staff in a joint briefing with Physicians for Social Responsibility Sept. 20 on the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (SB 1090).

The nurses’ and physicians’ groups urged the Senate gathering to modify the Chemical Safety Improvement Act to better protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, infants, young children and the elderly, as well as workers, low-income communities, and areas with high levels of aggregate chemical exposure, such as communities near polluting industries.

Environmental and occupational health experts focused on the hazards of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, which interrupt the body’s hormone system. Endocrine disruptors have been associated with a wide range of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to infertility and cancer.

ANA has long advocated for more tightly regulating toxic chemicals in the health care workplace and the environment. ANA has supported previous legislative efforts to reform the toxic substance approval, monitoring and restriction process, including reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act. ANA calls for:

  • Substituting less harmful chemicals whenever possible;
  • Labeling and full disclosure for chemicals;
  • Providing adequate information on the health effects of chemicals and chemicals in products before market introduction;
  • Streamlining methods for chemicals to be removed from use;
  • Researching the relationship between health and the environment, especially toxicology and impacts on vulnerable populations such as infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly;
  • Educating nurses about the potentially harmful chemicals that are typically used in health care settings, and safer products for substitution; and
  • Ensuring that nurses have full access to information and the right-to-know about the potentially hazardous chemicals to which nurses, other healthcare workers, patients, and communities are exposed.