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U.S. Regulators Don’t Know Health Risks of Most Chemicals

This summer, Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops and Honey Smacks, because of elevated levels of a chemical in the packaging, 2-methylnaphthalene. Although Kellogg said there was "no harmful material", dozens of consumers reported a strange taste and odor, and some complained of nausea and diarrhea.

Federal regulators know little about the suspected chemical. The FDA has no data on its impact on human health. The EPA lacks basic health and safety data for the chemical, though they been seeking that information from the chemical industry for 16 years.

There are huge gaps in the U.S. government's knowledge about chemicals in everyday consumer products. Under current laws, the government has little or no information about the health risks posed by most of the 80,000 chemicals on the U.S. market today.

The Washington Post reports:

"The information gap is hardly new. When the Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976, it exempted from regulation about 62,000 chemicals that were in commercial use — including 2-methylnaphthalene. In addition, chemicals developed since the law's passage do not have to be tested for safety. Instead, companies are asked to volunteer information".