A rack of test tubes
A rack of test tubes - 
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Jennifer Collins: Today, advocates for reforming chemical regulation testify before the Senate. Now there are all kinds of toxic chemicals around us, from couch cushions to water bottles. The question is how best to monitor toxins that find their way into our bodies. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Jennifer Collins reports.

Jennifer Collins: Erika Schreder is a scientist for the Washington Toxics Coalition. She's also a lab rat. She let researchers test the amount of some chemicals in her body as she nursed her daughter. The chemicals may slow brain development in babies. They're known as PBDEs.

Erika Schreder: You know, if you're sitting on a nice office chair right now, it's fairly likely that it has PBDEs in it.

Schreder had 10 times the level of PBDEs found in European women. Now, she's demanding tougher chemical regulations.

Schreder: So what we would like to see is that manufacturers can only use chemicals that have been tested fully for safety.

Mike Walls represents the American chemical industry. He agrees testing is critical.

Mike Walls: Right now, we can find smaller and smaller amounts of more and more chemicals in more and more places.

But there are more than 80,000 of those chemicals. And Walls says the regulations need to target only those chemicals in everyday use to be cost-effective.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.