EDF Health

Re-visioning TSCA: Address the cumulative impacts of chemical exposures

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 4 of a 4-part series see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here

This series of blog posts is looking ahead toward opportunities to advance a more robust and holistic vision for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as reformed in 2016.

We discussed in the preceding installments of this series the importance of ensuring that combined exposures to a chemical from multiple sources and the greater exposures and susceptibilities of certain groups are accounted for.  But it is critical to also recognize that many other factors influence the impacts chemical exposures have on our health.  This final installment in our series will discuss how TSCA can and should take into account all of these factors – that is, account for cumulative impacts.

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Re-visioning TSCA: Better protect those at greater risk

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 3 of a 4-part series see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4 here

This series of blog posts is looking ahead toward opportunities to advance a more robust and holistic vision for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as reformed in 2016.

In the preceding installment in this series, we discussed TSCA’s mandate for EPA to conduct comprehensive chemical evaluations.  The Trump EPA’s failure to do so especially detrimental to those groups at greater risk because they are more likely to face the precise exposures and susceptibilities that the Trump EPA excluded.  In this installment of our series, we will address how TSCA can and must be used to better protect those at greater risk from chemical exposures.

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Re-visioning TSCA: Comprehensively assess and mitigate chemicals’ risks

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 2 of a 4-part series see Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4 here

After our look back in Part 1 of this series at the damage done over the past four years, the remainder of the series will look ahead and explore opportunities to advance a more robust and holistic vision for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as reformed in 2016.

In this installment, we will discuss why legal and effective TSCA implementation demands that EPA undertake comprehensive assessments of chemical risks that supersede the media-specific limitations of other environmental laws. Read More »

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Re-visioning TSCA after the Trump years: A series

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 1 of a 4-part series – see Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 here

It wasn’t that long ago, June 2016, when there was hope that our nation was at last embarking on the enormous task of reinvigorating and greatly strengthening our chemical safety system, 40 years after original passage of the moribund Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act by huge bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress seemed to bode well for robust implementation of the law by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Even the affected industry had accepted the reforms as essential to restoring public confidence in our federal system (hoping thereby also to stem the rising tide of actions by state governments, retailers, and others to fill the void left by EPA’s inability to ensure the safety of chemicals and products).

We have an opportunity to rethink how the law could and should be used to advance a broader vision of greater health and environmental protection for all people.

Labor and health and environmental public interest communities saw an opportunity to use the new TSCA to drive more thorough assessments of chemicals’ risks.  The failure of our risk assessment-based regulatory system to address the multiple sources of exposure to a chemical affecting many different groups of people had long been viewed as a fundamental flaw of the old law.  Fixing that flaw isn’t, unfortunately, how the last four years have gone.

As we look to the future, there is a pressing need to course-correct on TSCA implementation.  But there is also an opportunity to rethink how the law could and should be used to advance a broader vision of greater health and environmental protection for all people.  This series of blog posts will explore that potential.

But we must start with a brief look back at the damage done.  Read More »

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EDF welcomes EPA’s announcement of much-needed changes to its TSCA New Chemicals Program

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced it is conducting a thorough review of its policies and procedures for assessing the safety of new chemicals prior to allowing their entry into commerce.

EPA’s announcement flags two immediate changes it is making to restore and realign the program’s practices with the major reforms Congress made in 2016 to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  These changes are critical to better ensure that new chemicals presenting potential risks to workers, the public, or the environment are not allowed onto the market absent restrictions sufficient to mitigate any risk.

First, EPA says it “will stop issuing determinations of ‘not likely to present an unreasonable risk’ based on the existence of proposed SNURs [Significant New Use Rules].”  TSCA requires EPA to review reasonably foreseen uses of a new chemical at the same time it considers a company’s intended uses.  If either type of use presents potential risk, TSCA requires EPA to issue an order restricting the new chemical to mitigate that risk.

We fully agree with EPA that it cannot exclude reasonably foreseen uses of a new chemical from its review by proposing a SNUR.  EPA’s clear statement that when it finds “one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, the agency will issue an order to address those potential risks” is precisely what TSCA requires.   By taking this step, EPA will reverse the illegal and unprotective approach the prior administration applied to hundreds of new chemicals over the last several years.

Second, EPA will take regulatory action by issuing an order whenever it identifies potential risks to workers from a new chemical, instead of simply assuming that workers are protected absent any binding requirement on employers.  TSCA identifies workers as warranting special protection under the law, yet the prior administration illegally allowed hundreds of new chemicals onto the market without any assured protections even where it found risks exceeding its own benchmarks by many-fold.

EDF looks forward to working with EPA to restore legal and scientific integrity to its TSCA program and realign it with the agency’s mission to protect health and the environment.

 

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Trump EPA, ACC and industry law firms colluded to weaken EPA new chemical safety reviews

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Records obtained through FOIA reveal extensive Trump EPA-industry collusion in a key area of TSCA implementation.

You know how sometimes you know something is going on behind closed doors, but you just can’t prove it?  Well, this isn’t one of those cases.

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