The Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday issued a strongly worded policy statement that outlines standards and criteria the commission will use to remove or reduce cancer-causing agents from all consumer products.
The four-pronged, policy on carcinogens lays out the general principles the commission cited as basis for future action:
The CPSC has both statutory jurisdiction and a public responsibility to regulate carcinogens found in consumer products that are available for human intake.
The agency shall not permit any known carcinogens to be intentionally added to consumer products it they can be absorbed inhaled or ingested into the human system.
If carcinogens are capable of getwill require that the use of such carcinogens be phased out in favor of "responsible substitutes" where they "reasonable substitutes" where they exist.
If no reasonable substitute is available, and there is evidence that elimination ot the carcinogenic substance would result in unacceptable economic and social costs, the CPSC will require reduction to the lowest attainable level of risk until substitutes are identified.
The exact wording of the policy is to be smoothed out by the staff and approved by the commission later this month.
But the action is a major step for the commission, which has been in limbo over a cancer policy for years.
Commissioners R. David Pittle and Barbara Hackman Franklin both have been active proponents of a strong cancer policy on the part of the CPSC, and some of yesterday's policy statement has been taken from their proposals and statements. The outline adopted reads much like an earlier memo to the commission staff from Pittle.
'This is a firm committment to reduce the threat of carcinogens," Pittle said yesterday. "If settles the question of how the commission will treat this issue. I don't think you could get a stronger statement."
The policy technically calls upon the agency to take action on any substances that have been confirmed to be carcinogenic by the National Cancer Institute or other laborataries.
In February the NCI completed testing on 253 chemicals for carcinogenicity. Reports on the chemicals are being forwarded to the commission on a continuing basis.
After receiving each report, the commission will first determine if the substance is contained in any consumer products under the commission's jurisdiction, and collect and assemble all known data on the substance.
If action is needed, the agency will make the necessary determinations of how much of the substance is present in the product, how much of a risk that presence represents, and what action should be taken.