Employers at Risk of Getting Burned by Weak Chemical Laws

The risks associated with exposure to chemicals in the workplace place a responsibility on employers to protect and inform their employees of potential hazards.

Most experts agree that federal law does not adequately protect workers from toxic chemicals. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that became law in 1976 has never received an update. Needless to say, much has changed since then in terms of research and the presence of chemicals in the workplace.

The law’s ineffective language has allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require testing on less than two percent of the more than 80,000 chemicals that have hit the market at some point since 1976.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the prevalence of many chronic diseases is increasing:

  • Asthma doubled in prevalence between 1980 and 1995, and by 2010 nearly 1 in 12 Americans are affected by the condition.
  • Incidence of breast cancer increased 40 percent between 1973 and 1998. A woman’s lifetime risk is now one in eight; up from one in 10 in 1973.
  • The prevalence of autism nearly tripled between 1997 and 2008.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of all Americans are living with chronic diseases that account for 75 percent of healthcare costs. These diseases stem from many factors, including poor diet and lack of exercise, but researchers suspect chemicals play a role in a significant portion of cases.

Any decrease in the incidence of chronic diseases – whether caused by lifestyle issues or chemical exposure – will result in a decrease in healthcare costs. This will become increasingly important as additional provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect in the coming year.

To learn more about how Saint Francis Medical Center can help you protect your workforce from chemical exposure, call Chad Clippard, referral services manager, at 573-331-3019.