Selected category: Regulation

Why is the nanotech industry so intent on keeping EPA from doing its job?

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

Ten years and counting.  That’s how long EPA has been trying to gather the most basic information on nanoscale materials in commerce.  And that’s how long the nanotech industry has been throwing up roadblocks – despite its rhetoric that it supports EPA’s effort, which it sees (in theory) as a means to “favorably and efficiently address unwarranted concerns that have been raised” about the products of nanotechnology.  This “say-one-thing, do-another” approach is both unfortunate and ironic, given that it has stymied getting to a well-informed government oversight system for nanotechnology that the industry should recognize is in its own best interest.

The latest round comes in the wake of EPA’s proposal of a reporting rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that would call on makers and processors of nanoscale materials – those in the size range of 1-100 nanometers (nm) – to provide the agency with information relating to the materials’ manufacture, processing and use, as well as available data relevant to understanding their potential exposures and health or environmental impacts. Here’s EPA’s succinct summary of the rationale for the rule:

Nanoscale materials have special properties related to their small size such as greater strength and lighter weight, however, they may take on different properties than their conventionally-sized counterpart. The proposal is not intended to conclude that nanoscale materials will cause harm to human health or the environment; Rather, EPA would use the information gathered to determine if any further action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including additional information collection, is needed.

Despite this modest, common-sense objective, the proposal was met with vociferous opposition from the nanotech industry.   Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, Nanotechnology| 3 Responses

TSCA reform legislation: Consideration of costs and other non-risk factors

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

Part 1              Part 2              Part 3              Part 4              Part 5

[NOTES:  (1) This post reflects the latest versions of TSCA reform legislation:

(2) All of the earlier posts in this series have been updated to reflect these latest versions.]

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts looking at less talked-about, but critically important, elements of bipartisan legislative proposals to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  This post deals with how costs and other non-risk considerations factor into safety and regulatory risk management decisions.   Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Evidence grows linking DEHP exposure to reproductive toxicity: What is the state of regulation?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

Phthalates are chemical plasticizers found in a wide array of industrial and consumer products, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping and tubing, cosmetics, medical devices, plastic toys, and food contact materials.  Because phthalates are often not strongly chemically bound to these products, they can leach out of those products and into the environment around us. Given this, it may not be surprising that phthalates and their metabolites can be measured in the bodies of nearly all people tested.

This post reports on important new research on DEHP and summarizes the state of regulation of the chemical in the U.S. and abroad.   Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Science, EU REACH, Health Policy, Health Science, States| Tagged | Comments are closed

EPA identifies another risky chemical: Can it succeed in using TSCA to restrict it?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

Last week, EPA released a risk assessment on the chemical N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP).  NMP is produced and imported into the U.S. in huge quantities (184 million pounds reported in 2012), and has a variety of uses including petrochemical processing, making plastics, and paint stripping.

Experiments in laboratory animals demonstrate that exposure to NMP during pregnancy leads to adverse developmental outcomes in the offspring, such as low birth weight, skeletal malformations, and mortality (see here and here).

EPA’s assessment focused exclusively on NMP exposure from its presence in products used to remove paint and other coatings.  Because of NMP’s potential to disrupt fetal development, EPA assessed exposures in women of childbearing age.

EPA found that exposure to NMP-based paint strippers in women of childbearing age beyond four hours per day presents risks that cannot be mitigated from use of protective gear such as gloves and respirators.  Risks obviously could be greater, even for shorter exposure times, if protective equipment is not consistently used.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , | Comments are closed

A Columnist Wonders: Can Congress Do Its Job?

Jack Pratt is Chemicals Campaign Director

“It’s not that members of Congress don’t work hard…yet they regularly manage to avoid accomplishing anything even on those matters on which they overwhelmingly agree,” observed Melinda Hennebergert this morning in Bloomberg Politics.

She was talking, in part, about the new bill to reform America’s broken chemical safety law. Everyone agrees the current system is a national disgrace, preventing the EPA from banning even known carcinogens like asbestos. Yet there’s fierce opposition to the only legislative vehicle that could successfully change things.

Hennebergert notes that some opponents to the bill, which has co-sponsors across the ideological and partisan spectrum, object to the fact that it is a compromise necessary to pass Congress. She calls it the “half-a-loaf or none conundrum” and says that “in the increasingly rare cases of bipartisan agreement, paralyzing pushback” now seems inevitable.

Her frustration is clear, especially since “it has already been 26 years since any environmental bill of this magnitude (1990's Clean Air Act) has passed.”

She notes that some opponents of the bill favor alternative legislation – a bill without bipartisan sponsors or the compromises necessary to gain traction. It’s an all or nothing approach and, with it, “nothing is just what citizens may get.”

The question is, can Congress prove her wrong and get something big done to protect public health and the environment?

Also posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Comments are closed

More than skin-deep: Have we underestimated the role of dermal exposures to BPA?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research AnalystRichard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, and has been associated with health effects such as premature puberty and developmental neurotoxicity.  Massive quantities of BPA – about 10 billion pounds and rising – are produced each year, making it one of the highest volume chemicals in commerce.  For that reason alone, it may not be surprising that scientists find BPA in the urine of nearly all people they test. 

It has generally been thought that exposure to BPA primarily comes from dietary sources (see here and here) due to its use in food packaging products such as metal cans and polycarbonate bottles.  Based on these concerns and market pressure, FDA amended its regulations to no longer provide for the use of BPA-based materials in baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula packaging, and France passed a law banning BPA in all food packaging containers as a precautionary measure. 

However, there is growing evidence that non-dietary sources of BPA exposure may be important.  One potentially overlooked but significant source of exposure is the use of BPA to make thermal receipts, which are commonly used in cash registers and ATMs.  Unlike BPA used to make food packaging, which uses polymerized or otherwise chemically bound BPA molecules, thermal receipts are coated with BPA in free form, only loosely attached to the paper.

A study just published by researchers at the University of Missouri and the Universite de Toulouse suggests that we may be underestimating the role of dermal exposure to BPA from handling of thermal receipts, especially in certain common settings.  The researchers tested the impact that use of a hand sanitizer immediately preceding handling a thermal paper receipt has on the transfer and absorption of BPA.  Hand sanitizers and other skin care products may contain chemicals called “dermal penetration enhancers,” which increase skin permeability, for example, to facilitate drug delivery.  Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Science, Health Policy, Health Science, Uncategorized| Tagged , | Comments are closed
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