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Legislating Toxic Chemicals

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By Stephanie Kaye

Maryland's Public Interest Research Group is looking to get new bans on certain chemicals.

"We can estimate that about 5 percent of cancer, about 10 percent of our diabetes, our Parkinson's, and actually about 30 percent of asthma, can be attributed to chemical exposure," says Jenny Levin, an environmental health advocate with the Maryland PIRG. It published a report of five independent studies.

PIRG says that exposure will cost Maryland about $9 million in health care, and $5 billion nationwide by the year 2020. That's the year the group hopes to see full implementation of upcoming state and federal bills.

"It's totally frustrating because it's like closing the barn door after the horse got out," says Ginni Cook, a registered nurse.

This session, lawmakers in Maryland are expected to consider two bills. One would ban BPA in baby bottles and toys; the other, a chemical flame retardant found in some electronics equipment.

There are approximately 80,000 chemicals registered for commerce in the U.S. Five have been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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