Toxic materials regulatory reform

I got an education this year in the nuances of global toxic materials regulatory regimes when I served on UNM graduate student Rachel Moore’s masters committee with Caroline Scruggs, a professor here at the university who’s worked for years in this area. (The paper on their work is here.)

Caroline showed up in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday, talking about the regulatory reform effort being led by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.:

Caroline Scruggs, an assistant professor at University of New Mexico who studied the safe use of chemicals while earning her doctorate from Stanford University, said her research has shown “a clear and urgent need” to update the 1976 law but that becoming a mother drove the point home. She said she has tried to study the chemicals in products her sons use and worries about exposing them to toxins.

“Americans shouldn’t need to research product ingredients or have training in toxicology or chemical engineering to understand if they’re buying safe products,” she said. “Tens of thousands of chemicals are on the market and only a handful have received safety testing and under current (federal law), and it’s almost impossible for EPA to restrict risky chemicals.”

In addition to toxics regulation, Caroline’s doing a lot of work on technical, economic, and social issues around direct potable reuse of municipal wastewater, and is very active working with students in the UNM Water Resources Program, where my little academic beachhead is housed. (Wave to future students!) One of the things we talk about a lot is the translational component of academic work – how to get it out of the academy and into the political and policy arenas. Great to see Caroline doing that here.

One Comment

  1. Very nice discussion.
    From the other end, regulators, especially in the Federal government, get promotions for overregulating everything. So, if a chemical causes mutations in yeast at the millimolar level, the regulator will try to get a law that forbids that substance in human food at one millionth of that level (‘just to be safe’). The new regulation raises costs on lots of products. The bad part is that usually there is no scientific evidence at all to show that the chemical has any effect on humans or that the new regulation is doing anything except getting the Federal employee a promotion.
    We need good science and much better regulations driven by that science.

Comments are closed.