Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

3 Things You Should Know About the Most Important Environmental Law Passed in Decades

Health + Wellness

Something that cynics will find remarkable just happened: A big, bipartisan majority in Congress passed the most important new environmental law in decades—The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, passed by the Senate on June 7. It finally fixes the biggest problems with America's badly broken chemical safety system.

Here's what you need to know:

1. Deadly Chemicals Can Now Be Banned

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finally have the power to ban dangerous uses of known carcinogens such as asbestos and formaldehyde.

Amazingly, until this reform, the government lacked authority to restrict these and other deadly chemicals, including many used in everyday household products.

2. New Chemicals Will Be Screened

Most people think chemicals have to be shown to be safe before they're put in products we buy in the store, such as couches, clothes and cleaning products. But that's just not true.

With this reform, the 700 or so new chemicals that come on the market every year will finally have clear a safety bar first—and Americans will no longer be guinea pigs.

3. Industry Can No Longer Hide Health Threats

Companies used to be able to claim any information they submitted to the EPA, including secret health studies of chemicals, to be “confidential business information." No more.

The new law stops this practice and allows only legitimate trade secrets, never health information, to be protected from public disclosure.

But what happened in Congress goes beyond these much-needed health protections for Americans. We witnessed Congress work across the aisle for the common good. That gave me new hope.

Jack Pratt is Environmental Defense Fund's chemicals campaign director.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Pollution in People: Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Americans' Bodies

EPA Proposal Allows Radiation Exposure in Drinking Water Equivalent to 250 Chest X-Rays a Year

Asbestos Industry Knew and Kept Secret for Decades That Their Product Was Deadly

Clean Air Act Under Attack: House to Vote This Week

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less
Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less
Andrey Nikitin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

Plants are awesome. They brighten up your space and give you a living thing you can talk to when there are no humans in sight.

Turns out, having enough of the right plants can also add moisture (aka humidify) indoor air, which can have a ton of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less
The office of Rover.com sits empty with employees working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 in Seattle, Washington. John Moore / Getty Images

The office may never look the same again. And the investment it will take to protect employees may force many companies to go completely remote. That's after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for how workers can return to the office safely.

Read More Show Less
Frederic Edwin Church's The Icebergs reveal their danger as a crush vessel is in the foreground of an iceberg strewn sea, 1860. Buyenlarge / Getty Images

Scientists and art historians are studying art for signs of climate change and to better understand the ways Western culture's relationship to nature has been altered by it, according to the BBC.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Esben Østergaard, co-founder of Lifeline Robotics and Universal Robots, takes a swab in the World's First Automatic Swab Robot, developed with Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, professor at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at The University of Southern Denmark. The University of Southern Denmark

By Richard Connor

The University of Southern Denmark on Wednesday announced that its researchers have developed the world's first fully automatic robot capable of carrying out throat swabs for COVID-19.

Read More Show Less