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Jessica Hoerman
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EPA Fails To Protect Our Children From Harmful Chemicals

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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the EPA did not achieve children’s health protection goals as explained in a scathing report published July 21, 2011.

Launched in December 2000, the Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program (VEEP) was an initiative set up to deal with the risks of chemical exposure to children in order to allow families to make wise choices in the home and marketplace. This program was declared a failure in a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General.

In implementing VCCEP, the EPA asked companies that manufactured or imported on or more of 23 chemicals to which children have a high likelihood of exposure, to volunteer to provide information on health effects, exposure, risk and data needs. Thirty-five companies and 10 consortia (click to see the names of those companies responding), volunteered to sponsor 20 of the 23 chemicals. The VCCEP was implemented as a pilot program — the goal was to learn from the trial before a final VCCEP process was determined and other chemicals were selected.

According to the OIG Report, the program failed as a result of several very large flaws:

  1. The VCCEP did not address the chemicals posing the greatest potential to children, most conspicuously missing was Bisphenol A (BPA – a plasticizer found in baby bottles and sippy cups) and Phthalates (found in children’s toys).
  2. Some industry partners chose not to voluntarily collect and submit information, and, when they did act, there was no deadlines so the information was not timely or efficient
  • The EPA did not exercise its regulatory authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to compel data collection.

As a result, the country does not currently have a source of information to consult in regards to chemical exposure to determine potential risks to children.

Although the OIG gave the EPA recommendations to follow when they “try again” with a similar study, this should not give the public reason to breathe easier. This last study, which has now been scrapped, took over ten years and ended without a single recommendation on how to protect our children from potentially harmful chemicals.

Sources: EPA.gov, WSJ.com