Selected tags: chemical identity

6 years in the making: A new and improved snapshot of U.S. chemical manufacture

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

Well, it’s finally hit the street:  Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released information on the manufacture and use of nearly 7,700 industrial chemicals in 2011.  The data were collected last year under a revamped Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) program, and is the first update of such information since way back in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina and Star Wars Episode III.

In releasing the data, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson noted:  “The CDR data also highlight the clear need for TSCA reform. Updating this critical law will ensure that EPA has access to the tools and resources it needs to quickly and effectively assess potentially harmful chemicals, and safeguard the health of families across the country.”

Getting even to this point has been a long and bumpy road.  Just getting from the proposed to a final CDR rule took over 16 months, with EPA having to endure not one but two nearly six-month regulatory reviews by the Office of Management and Budget and the chemical industry’s efforts to delay and dilute the rule.  It then took another year for EPA to collect the data, in no small part thanks to repeated efforts by the chemical industry and its allies in Congress to further delay the program.

Finally, it’s taken EPA six more months to compile and process the data in preparation for today’s release – though that’s a decided improvement over the 21 months it took EPA to release the data collected in the last cycle (the faster pace due in part to a requirement this time around for electronic reporting, a feature the chemical industry and its Congressional allies opposed).

So what do the new data reveal?  EPA has provided some nice summary materials, which we won’t duplicate here.  See especially the table on this page.  We’ll have more to say on this as we further analyze the data, but here are a few important things to note:

  • While 7,674 chemicals were publicly reported, these are limited to those being produced in or imported into the US in 2011 at volumes above the reporting threshold of 25,000 pounds per year per site.
    • The count excludes the likely much larger number of chemicals produced or imported at volumes below the reporting threshold, as well as the many chemicals exempt from reporting, such as most polymers.
  • Nearly 33,000 “records” have been made available by EPA.  Each record represents a single chemical reported by a single site of a company producing or importing that chemical.
    • In contrast to EPA’s reporting in the last cycle, a record for every single chemical-single site combination has been provided even if the information provided in the record is confidential business information (CBI).  In this way, the extent and nature of CBI claims is far clearer than was the case in the last cycle.
  • Extent of CBI claims:  Of all of the reported elements in these records that could potentially have been claimed CBI, about 16% were so claimed.  But that percentage varied a lot among the elements.
    • For 624 records (about 2%), the chemical identity was not provided and instead replaced with a unique identifier called an accession number.  These are new chemicals that are listed on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory, which are the only chemicals for which EPA allows chemical identity to be claimed CBI.
    • For 3,420 records (10.4%), the company claimed its identity to be CBI.
    • For 9,686 records (29.4%), the company claimed its domestically manufactured production volume to be CBI.
    • For 10,351 records (31.5%), the company claimed its exported volume to be CBI.

More to come, so stay tuned!

Posted in EPA, Regulation | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

No shame: ACC plunges to new low in fighting your right to know

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

This post is longer than usual and starts with a rather esoteric topic, but I urge you to read it through, as it vividly shows there is no limit to the lengths to which the American Chemistry Council (ACC) will go to squirm out of a regulatory requirement, even if it means violating rules by which ACC had agreed to abide.

But that’s far from the worst of it.  Going farther than even I could imagine when I blogged earlier about its tactics, ACC is sparing no effort to deny your right to know about the health impacts of chemicals, by mustering every argument it can invent – however far-fetched – to  keep health and safety studies from being shared with the public.

ACC insists that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should hassle the European Union (EU) instead of its members for the health and safety data ACC promised to provide – despite the fact that the chemical industry itself has thrown up major roadblocks to such sharing.  And reaching a new low in tortured logic, ACC argues that, should EPA succeed in getting its hands on the health and safety data submitted to the EU, EPA can and should deny the public access to those data – despite the fact that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) clearly prohibits EPA from withholding such information.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

A ray of sunlight up ahead: ECHA to release more information through REACH dossiers

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

After many months of increasing the quantity but not the quality of dossiers available to the public for chemicals registered under REACH, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has recently announced two improvements.  (REACH is the European Union’s regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals.)  According to the agency, the public will soon have access to more data from the dossiers that were submitted by companies as part of the first wave of REACH’s Registration process.

In a press release issued a couple of weeks ago, ECHA announced that it will publish information from registered chemicals’ Safety Data Sheets – including the identity of the registrant and whether the chemical was found to be Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT).  And last week, ECHA said it will also publish (by June) the aggregate production volume ranges (called “tonnage bands”) for chemicals registered under REACH.  These decisions will improve ECHA’s record on disclosure and transparency by increasing the amount of both hazard and exposure data available to the public on chemicals in use.  Read More »

Posted in EU REACH, Health Policy | Also tagged , | Comments closed

Striking the right balance between right to know and right to intellectual property protection

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

There is clearly a need to balance the legitimate claims of companies to protect certain confidential business information (CBI) from public disclosure with the legitimate need for the market, consumers and the public to have access to information they need to make sound decisions about chemicals that are in commerce.  Unfortunately, most of TSCA’s provisions and their implementation by EPA have skewed this balance radically in the direction of denying the public’s right to know and creating an ill-informed chemicals marketplace.

The core problem is two-fold, constituting a vicious circle:  Too many CBI claims are made, and each of the infrequent examinations of such claims done by EPA has found a large fraction to be illegitimate, i.e., not meeting the well-established criteria for what constitutes a legitimate trade secret.  And because of the large number of claims made, EPA has lost the ability to review claims to ensure they are in fact legitimate and remain so over time; this lack of review has led directly to more claims being made, thereby completing the vicious circle.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation, TSCA Reform | Also tagged , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Smoke and Mirrors: ACC lawyers are working hard to rein in your right to know

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

I’ve blogged here frequently about EPA’s efforts over the past couple of years to make more chemical information available to the public, especially health and safety information.  A key part of this, believe it or not, is simply making sure that when EPA shares a health study with the public – as required by law – you get to know the identity of the chemical that is the subject of that study.

EPA’s initial steps (see below) were met with a little grumbling on the part of the chemical industry, but not a whole lot.  After all, the industry says it wants the public to have more information about chemicals.  At #7 on the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) top 10 principles for TSCA reform is:  “Companies and EPA should work together to enhance public access to chemical health and safety information.”

Times, apparently, have changed.  In recent weeks, ACC has launched a broadside attack on the EPA’s efforts to compel its member companies ever to name a chemical when submitting health and safety information to EPA.  My evidence?  A 36-page White Paper delivered by ACC to the office of the regulatory czar at the Office of Management and Budget, at a meeting held there on January 20.  The ACC document is a wonder of tortured logic, obfuscation and selective renditions of the history of TSCA.

Today, a response was mounted.  EDF and Earthjustice staff, as well as representatives of health-affected individuals, environmental justice communities and workers, held their own meeting with OMB officials.  And we delivered our own letter to OMB that thoroughly rebuts ACC’s White Paper.  It also points out that, way back in 1976, the drafters of TSCA actually wanted you to have access to health and safety information on chemicals – and they darn well didn’t expect you to have to guess at the identity of those chemicalsRead More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Making do under TSCA: EPA to require reporting of health data by makers of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing

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

Last August, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and over one hundred other groups recently filed a petition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require manufacturers and processors of chemicals used in oil and gas exploration and production (E&P chemicals) – including those used in hydraulic fracturing fluids – both to conduct testing and submit to EPA health and environmental data they already have on hand..  The aim of the petition was to ensure EPA obtains better information on the identity, production, use and health/environmental effects of these chemicals in order to evaluate their health and environmental risks.  Late last month, EPA announced its decision.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , | Comments closed

New Ways in the Ancient World: Japan and China advance their chemicals policies

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

This isn’t the first time on this blog that we’ve observed that chemicals reform is popping up all over the world.  Whatever their strengths and shortcomings, the 1999 amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the European Union’s REACH Regulation got the ball rolling.  The momentum of chemicals reform is reaching around the globe as governments pay more attention to the risks posed by chemicals.  In this post, we will focus on recent developments in Japan and China.

Japan and China are two of the U.S.’s top competitors, so it’s noteworthy that they have not allowed themselves to fall behind in chemicals management.  Why are they expanding their chemicals regulations?  Do they know something we don’t?  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, International | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Avoiding paralysis by analysis: EPA proposes a sensible approach to identifying chemicals of concern

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.  Thanks to my colleagues Jennifer McPartland and Allison Tracy for their analysis of the EPA proposal discussed in this post.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held stakeholder meetings to get public input into the criteria it will use to identify additional chemicals of concern beyond the 11 chemicals or chemical classes it has already identified.  EPA used these meetings (as well as an online forum open until September 14) as an opportunity for the public to respond to a “discussion guide” it issued in August that sets forth draft criteria and identifies data sources it intends to use to look for chemicals that meet the criteria.

The day before the EPA meetings, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued its own “prioritization tool” which lays out its own criteria and ranking system for identifying chemicals of concern.  This post will make a few observations about EPA’s proposal.  My next post will provide a critique of ACC’s proposed tool.

EDF and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition strongly support EPA in this endeavor – both for what it is, and for what it is not.    Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

TSCA reform 2.0, aka, Safe Chemicals Act of 2011: Tastes great, less filling

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

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Senator Frank Lautenberg and is co-sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar, Charles Schumer, and Barbara Boxer.

In the TSCA reform debate, some things haven’t changed from last year:  TSCA is just as badly in need of an overhaul, and consumers and the chemical industry’s customers have no more confidence in the safety of chemicals in use today than they did a year ago.  States, other countries and the marketplace all continue to act to advance modern chemical safety policies and practices.  We in the advocacy community are still waiting for the chemical industry to offer some of its own proposals for reform – though some individual companies and product associations have been more forthcoming.

In contrast, the 2011 version of the Safe Chemicals Act has changed in some important ways – and for the better.  It includes a number of improvements over last year’s version that would both boost health protections and ease implementation and workability.

[Updated 5-9-11:  Here's a side-by-side comparing the 2011 version to the 2010 version of the Act.]  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

A sea of red herrings is behind opposition to EPA’s proposal to enhance chemical reporting

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist. Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

With the chemical industry and now Congressional Republicans mounting a last-minute effort to derail the EPA’s long-time-in-coming enhancements to its Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) rule (see our last post), it’s worth examining their main objections.  That examination reveals a sea of red herrings.  Here are a few of the smelliest ones, discussed in detail in this post:

Red herring #1:  EPA has failed to indicate how it will use the information it collects.

Red herring #2:  Small businesses would be excessively burdened.

Red herring #3:  More frequent reporting is a “needless” burden on the industry.

Red herring #4:  EPA is expanding the IUR from data reporting to data-gathering.

Red herring #5:  EPA’s requirement for retroactive reporting is unfair.

Red herring #6:  Requiring electronic reporting is too inflexible.

Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed
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