Author Archives: Alissa Sasso

ECHA keeps the ball rolling on Authorisation under REACH

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

In our last update on the European Union’s Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), we noted a major milestone under the “A” of REACH, as the first application for an authorisation was passed to and is awaiting decision by the European Commission. The authorisation process is continuing to move along: as of May 19th, ECHA has received 13 applications for 35 uses of six different substances on the Authorisation list. Interest in ECHA’s authorisation work is also increasing, eliciting a greater variety of stakeholder input than in the first round.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy| Comments closed

Report: Staggering amounts of toxic chemicals produced across America

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy FellowRichard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Cross-posted from EDFVoices blog]

Recent spills in West Virginia and North Carolina cast a spotlight on toxic hazards in our midst. But as bad as they are, these acute incidents pale in scope compared to the chronic flow of hazardous chemicals coursing through our lives each day with little notice and minimal regulation. A new report by EDF, Toxics Across America, tallies billions of pounds of chemicals in the American marketplace that are known or strongly suspected to cause increasingly common disorders, including certain cancers, developmental disabilities, and infertility.

While it’s no secret that modern society consumes huge amounts of chemicals, many of them dangerous, it is surprisingly difficult to get a handle on the actual numbers. And under current law it’s harder still to find out where and how these substances are used, though we know enough to establish that a sizeable share of them end up in one form or another in the places where we live and work.

Our new report looks at 120 chemicals that have been identified by multiple federal, state and international officials as known or suspected health hazards. Using the latest, albeit limited, data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we identify which of these chemicals are in commerce in the U.S.; in what amounts they are being made; which companies are producing or importing them; where they are being produced or imported; and how they are being used. An interactive online map accompanying the report lets the user access the report’s data and search by chemical, by company, by state, and by site location.

Among our findings:  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , , | Comments closed

A REACH milestone: First authorisation application passes the European Chemicals Agency

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update on ongoing activities under the European Union’s Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).  The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been quite busy in recent months.

The first application for authorisation (we’ll be using the English spelling of this term, as it is spelled in REACH) to use a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) cleared ECHA’s Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) on January 3rd. This is a significant step in the implementation of REACH in the EU. The authorisation process is intended both to manage the risks posed by SVHCs and to drive the replacement of these hazardous substances with safer alternatives.  And, as the final step in the process laid out under REACH for managing chemical substances, its execution is central to the success of REACH as a whole. This first application for authorisation was therefore a kind of test-run for ECHA, as well as the chemical industry, and sets the stage for the submission and review of future authorisation applications.

As we run through the details of this particular authorisation application, keep in mind that ECHA received seven other applications for authorisation last year, and will see even more activity in the coming year.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy| Tagged , , | Comments closed

Public pressure gets the job done: South Korea passes new chemicals law, K-REACH

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

Two years ago, accidental use of a chemical in humidifiers in South Korea tragically took the lives of 18 people and captured national headlines. Nearly a year later another fatal accident occurred at a chemical plant, this time injuring thousands of people in the surrounding area as well.

Meanwhile, the South Korean National Assembly was negotiating a new comprehensive chemicals bill that some observers saw as leaning in favor of the business interests at the table. The tragedies brought the public spotlight to the issue and changed the political dynamic and policy outcome.  With the public calling for greater control over toxic chemicals, legislators reinstated many of the health-protective requirements that had been dropped due to industry pressure (Chemical Watch, subscription required). And on April 30th, 2013, the Assembly passed the “Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals”, known as “Korea REACH” or simply “K-REACH” (Chemical Watch, subscription required).  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy, International| Tagged , | Comments closed

ECHA raises its sights: Several recent additions to the REACH Candidate List set precedents

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

The European Union is maintaining a steady pace as it works to address chemicals of concern: Last month, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) added 54 Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) to the Candidate List for Authorisation under its REACH Regulation, bringing the total number of substances on the list to 138. ECHA posted a press release listing the new SVHCs and describing some of the more interesting additions, which we’ve highlighted below.

For 23 of the additions, REACH’s Member State Committee (MSC) reviewed public comments during the comment period on draft SVHC proposals before voting unanimously to add all of them onto the Candidate List. The other 31 new additions were not challenged during the public comment period, and hence moved directly onto the candidate list without MSC consultation.

The majority of the new SVHCs, like most substances already on the list, are classified as carcinogen, mutagenic and/or toxic to reproduction (CMRs).  But it’s with the other new listings that it gets really interesting.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy| Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Small is beautiful: Polling shows huge bipartisan support for TSCA reform among small business owners

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

This week, the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a bipartisan national survey of 511 small business owners conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies. The survey showed that small business owners, just like voters, support stronger chemical safety regulations to mitigate the risks posed to human health and the environment by toxic chemicals.

Small business owners are an important part of the discussion on TSCA reform; the chemical industry frequently uses this group as an excuse to oppose tighter regulations, claiming that these regulations are “bad for business” and would detrimentally harm small business owners. In contrast, the survey shows that there is broad consensus among small business owners on the need to ensure the safety of their products and their customers.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Despite TSCA-like law, there is movement down under on chemical safety

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

Australia’s chemical law, dating back to 1989, in many ways resembles the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA).   Australia, however, has begun taking steps to address tens of thousands of existing chemicals at a scale that has not been taken in the U.S.  These steps come in the wake of government and stakeholder recognition that Australia’s TSCA-like approach to chemicals management is inadequate and in need of revision.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, International, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Onwards and upwards: South Korea and Turkey advance their REACH-like policies

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

This summer we saw a flurry of activity surrounding our own chemical safety legislation, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); international reform efforts have been just as busy. In this blog post, we’ll discuss recent developments in toxic chemicals management in South Korea and Turkey. As apparent in our recent post on new Chinese regulations, these developments are notable because of their alignment with the EU’s REACH legislation.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, International| Tagged , , , | Comments closed

China’s strengthened chemicals program looks increasingly like REACH

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

China is on a steady path toward improved chemicals management, one that in many ways  increasingly resembles the policies of the European Union’s REACH regulation.  On July 11th, China’s State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) finalized and published its “Measures for the Administration of the Registration of Hazardous Substances,” which became effective August 1st.  The new rule applies to all existing substances in China’s Catalogue of Hazardous Chemicals and is aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the primary legislation on the management of hazardous chemicals, known as Decree 591.  

The new rule, an update of the initial rule from 2002, complements earlier regulatory steps taken to address new chemicals.  A description of the major changes to the registration process, compiled by the consulting group REACH24H, is available here.  Below we’ve highlighted and provided a summary of the most significant requirements under the new Measures (and those most relevant to the U.S. chemical industry):

  • Extension to importers
  • Enhanced data requirements
  • Expansion of chemicals subject to registration

Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, International| Tagged | Comments closed
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