Latina actress Jessica Alba (“Machete”, “Sin City”) posted a photo on Instagram with the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg with a message mourning his death. She mentioned in her message her work with him on passing the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, a bill that Sen. Lautenberg introduced with Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana on May 22 that would “ensure that all chemicals are screened for safety to protect public health and the environment.”
“My partner @christopher_gav & I r saddened by the passing of @FrankRLautenberg a true hero 4 children’s health & safety writing #ChemSafetyAct — lets get this bill on chemical reform passed…,” reads the message.
Alba links to Safer Chemcials Healthy Families, a nonprofit coalition that raises awareness about toxic chemicals in products. The bi-racial actress Jennifer Beals is featured on the site as a supporter of the campaign to have the Chemicals Act passed.
“When I read that chemicals categorized as potential carcinogens by the World Health Association (WHO) are used in our daily products, and that those chemicals are being found in our children and in women’s breast milk, I had to get involved,” says Beals in an interview on the site.
The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, which is supposed to allow the EPA to screen and test chemicals found in products used in homes, work places, schools and even the toys kids play with. The TSCA is bound, though, by legal restrictions that have prevented EPA from doing this effectively. Of the 84,000 chemicals identified in goods by EPA, the agency has been able to test only 200 and ban only five since 1976.
The new CSIA would require safety evaluations for all active chemicals and frees the EPA from many of the legal restrictions that prevented the agency from doing proper chemical screenings.
Sen. Lautenberg had earlier introduced a similar bill with New York U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that had a tremendous amount of support from a broad group that included environmental justice groups. That bill had protections in it for vulnerable populations, including low-income communities, communities of color and those who live close to factories where chemical waste is prevalent.
Since reintroducing the bill with Sen. Vitter, though, it seems that those environmental justice protections may have been weakened. Michele Roberts and Richard Moore of the Environmental Justice & Health Alliance said of the Lautenberg/Vitter chemistry bill “We are deeply disappointed that those most harmed by failed chemical regulations and those who have worked tirelesslyto support industrial chemical protections for all people will themselves be left inadequately protected under the Chemical Safety Improvement Act.”