President Obama signs new toxic chemical rules into law

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 22, 2016

For the first time in 40 years, the government is overhauling the rules for toxic chemicals.

President Obama signed the bipartisan bill into law Wednesday. It will look at chemicals in thousands of household products, from canned goods to laundry detergents, and test for hidden health risks to American families.

"There are tens of thousands of chemicals that are in interstate commerce every day, that we have at home, that we use constantly," said David Dyjack, Dr.Ph, CIH with the National Environmental Health Association. "Those have received precious little health and safety review."

The new law will standardize the $800 billion dollar chemical industry, previously overseen by individual states. 

"With this new legislation, we'll be able to systematically and in a risk-based way, test what has the greatest potential for harm and how to address that," said Dyjack. "This is a very big deal."

BPA is one example of a dangerous chemical, recently removed from water bottles and other plastic products, because of known health effects. 

Dyjack advises using simple, natural products with easy-to-read labels, when possible. 

"If you can use plain Clorox to clean a countertop, as opposed to some fancy product, you ought to seriously consider that," said Dyjack. "Simple is the best."

Critics say toxic chemical regulation should be up to individual states. Congress spent three years working on the changes, which are the first since the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.