Senate committe…

Senate committee approves tougher chemical reporting bill

Chemical companies would need to provide more health and safety information about their products and regulators would have more authority to force harmful substances off the market under legislation approved along party lines Wednesday by a Senate committee.

With research increasingly linking toxic chemicals to cancer, learning disabilities and other health problems, the vote represented a symbolic victory in a decades-long effort to keep troublesome compounds out of furniture, toys, cosmetics, electronics and other household products.

The Safe Chemicals Act would be the first overhaul of federal chemical law since 1976, but majority Democrats acknowledged the bill likely will not advance further without at least some bipartisan support. Every Republican senator on the Environment and Public Works Committee opposed the measure.

Sponsoring Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., has introduced versions of the legislation every year since 2005. Democrats revived the bill following a Tribune investigative series published in May about toxic flame retardants, many of which remain on the market despite studies that link them to health problems.

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