From: Fair Warning

Federal officials know little about the health risks of the vast majority of the 80,000 chemicals used in the U.S.– a flaw underscored by the many questions remaining in the wake of Kellogg’s June recall of 28 million boxes of cereal. Kellogg announced in June that elevated levels of the chemical 2-methylnaphthalene in packaging had caused the cereal to exhibit a strange taste and odor.

Federal regulators, however, are not in a position to confirm or disprove Kellogg’s assessment of the chemical, which is structurally related to naphthalene — an ingredient in mothballs and toilet-deodorant that the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a possible human carcinogen, The Washington Post reports. That’s because when the Toxic Substances Control Act became law in 1976, it exempted 62,000 existing chemicals and did not require initial safety testing for new substances.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has minimal information about the chemical, but has no data on its food-related risks. According to the agency’s website, consumers “are not likely to be exposed…eating foods or drinking beverages” and would only risk exposure near a hazardous waste site. Pending legislation in Congress to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act would force companies to assess the safety of substances, but the chemical industry has argued that the regulations would hinder innovation.

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