Nuclear Chemicals

A new piece of environmental legislation just made it through Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama. It's being referred to as the "chemical safety law," though it's technically called the "Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act." It is an important update that will apply to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was already on the books.

Testing All Chemicals

The reason the law was needed is that there are around 80,000 chemicals being used in the United States in various products, from clothing to shampoo to food. The TSCA was passed so that new chemicals would be tested as they came into use, but the vast majority -- about 62,000 -- were grandfathered in. They were assumed to be safe and allowed to be used even though they had not been tested at all under these regulations. With the new law in place, only a few hundred of the 80,000 chemicals will be untested.

It's also worth noting that this should make testing stronger going forward, as well. In the past, only a few new chemicals were tested to be approved, even though there were hundreds of new ones going into products. Proponents of the law would like to see testing done all of the time to ensure that consumers are safe.

Multiple Impacts

This new law is going to have several different impacts. For one, companies may have to change their manufacturing processes if chemicals are found to be unsafe. Additionally, those who have been harmed -- or who are in the future -- may be able to seek compensation if they were harmed by dangerous chemicals that should not have been used. Furthermore, the Environmental Defense Fund Executive Director said that this could bring in a new wave of innovation and development for "green" chemicals.

Both Sides

There are two sides to this law. For one thing, business owners and manufacturers must know how the regulations are changing and what it means on their end. Additionally, those who think they've been harmed by these dangerous chemicals need to know how they can seek compensation.