Contact: Katie Gommel
American Association for Justice
AAJ on TSCA Reform: If No One is Accountable, No One is Safe
Access to justice and accountability through state courts must be protected
Washington, DC—The American Association for Justice (AAJ) sent a letter to members of Congress outlining important legal principles that must be upheld in efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in order to effectively protect public safety. The letter details how the civil justice system and state laws complement federal regulation, ensure accountability and provide a safety net when federal regulation is insufficient.
“We have seen time and again how dangerous chemicals in our drinking water, children’s toys and consumer products can disastrously impact the lives of American families,” said AAJ CEO Linda Lipsen. “AAJ strongly supports efforts to reform TSCA, but in order for reform to effectively protect the American public, it is imperative that Americans’ access to state courts is protected.”
As AAJ covers in the letter, the civil justice system provides an additional layer of accountability and safety. This is especially true when federal agencies are underfunded, have limited access to information or have insufficient resources to adequately enforce safety measures. When regulations fail and enforcement is unavailable, state-based tort law is the only remedy to ensure that companies and manufacturers can be held accountable for the harm they cause. Eliminating Americans’ rights under state law removes a key incentive for manufacturers to update their products to reduce health and safety risks.
“Accountability achieved through our civil justice system is a vital component of the effort to protect the public from toxic chemicals and to shed a light on products harmful to human health,” continued Lipsen. “If no one is accountable, no one is safe. Any effort to reform TSCA must specifically preserve the ability of individuals to pursue their rights under state law.”
Read the full letters here.
Dangerous Chemicals Affected by TSCA Reform
- Formaldehyde (a cancer-causing chemical present in temporary housing for Hurricane Katrina victims);
- Hexavalent chromium (cancer-causing chemical leaked into ground water);
- Asbestos (which kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year);
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCB’s”, cancer-causing chemicals found to harm reproductive health, immune systems, and childhood diseases and is found in coolants and industrial equipment and have been found in food, surface soil, and drinking water);
- Lead (causes permanent brain-damage in children and miscarriage with uses ranging from industrial facilities to paint and plumbing materials); and,
- Bisphenol A (“BPA”, a substance which leeches from plastics and plastic-coatings and causes heart disease, diabetes, and abnormalities in brain and hormone development).