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EU Chemical Rules Pressure U.S. Firms

from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON - Europe this month rolled out new restrictions on makers of chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems, changes that are forcing U.S. industries to find new ways to produce a wide range of everyday products.

The new laws in the European Union (EU) require companies to demonstrate that a chemical is safe before it enters commerce, the opposite of policies in the United States, where regulators must prove a chemical is harmful before it can be restricted or removed from the market. Manufacturers said complying with the European laws will add billions to their costs.

The changes come as consumers increasingly are worried about the long-term consequences of chemical exposure and are agitating for more aggressive regulation. In the United States, these pressures have spurred efforts in Congress and some state legislatures to pass laws that would circumvent the laborious federal regulatory process.

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