Selected tags: chemical identity

EPA's right-to-know effort declassifies the chemicals in 42 health and safety studies

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

EPA has just released today the full versions — showing the identities of the chemicals in question — of 41 "substantial risk" notices of health and safety studies it had previously received from companies that had denied the public's right to know those identities by claiming them to be confidential business information (CBI).  These notices had been submitted pursuant to Section 8(e) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  One additional notice of a health and safety study that EPA had received under Section 8(d) of TSCA was also released today with its chemical identified.

What's most significant about today's posting is that it makes publicly available the identities of chemicals associated with health and safety data that:

  1. the submitting companies themselves believed the data “reasonably supports the conclusion that [the chemical] presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment;” and
  2. should have been publicly available all along, based on the plain language of TSCA that disallows health and safety studies to be claimed CBI in the first place.

Read More »

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

EPA’s TSCA CBI policy change yields first increment in restoring public’s chemical right-to-know

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

The number 14 is getting to be kind of a magic number when it comes to EPA policy and practice relating to confidential business information (CBI) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

I reported earlier that it had been longstanding EPA practice to allow the vast majority of CBI claims made for data submitted by industry under TSCA to stand indefinitely without any review.  In fact, EPA reported in 2005 that it reviewed an average of only 14 – yes, that’s 14 – CBI claims per year out of the thousands of such claims asserted.

But today the number 14 took on a more positive, if still a bit faint, tint:  That’s the number of chemicals the identities of which EPA announced it will soon reveal in association with data it has received that “reasonably supports the conclusion that [the chemical] presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.” While we’ll have to wait another month, and possibly more, to see the chemicals and their associated risk data, these chemicals represent the first installment in what I hope will become a steady flow arising from EPA’s new policy to review, challenge and likely deny CBI claims that seek to mask the names of chemicals that are the subjects of health and safety studies required to be submitted to the Agency. Read More »

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

Enduring TSCA myths: Absence of evidence of harm = evidence of absence of harm

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

A subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) last week.  It’s good to have attention drawn to the issue so early in the new Congress.

But – especially if you missed Senator Lautenberg’s opening statement and the testimony of EPA Assistant Administrator Steve Owens – you may well have come away from the hearing with the impression that TSCA is basically working quite well and really only needs a few tweaks, or what the chemical industry loves to call “modernization.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course.  This 35-year-old law is not only outdated, it’s proven ineffectual in myriad ways.  The false impression that all TSCA needs is a little polishing-up was, unfortunately, bolstered by the invoking of two particularly pernicious myths about TSCA by some of the other hearing witnesses.

The first myth, which I’ll deal with in this post, is that EPA’s new chemicals program has worked very well – so often repeated by some former EPA officials that it has become virtual dogma.

The second myth, which I’ll address in a subsequent post, is that we can confidently rely on existing information to identify all of the chemicals of concern on the market today, and safely set aside the rest.  Read More »

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

Reporting deferred is right-to-know denied: ACC seeks major delays in EPA chemical reporting program

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

Well, in its comments on EPA's proposed rule to enhance chemical information reporting under the TSCA Inventory Update Rule (IUR), it took the American Chemistry Council (ACC) all of 5 paragraphs to get through the lip service it no doubt felt it had to pay to supporting EPA's proposals "in principle," and then proceed to devote 31 pages to arguments opposing virtually every element of EPA's proposals.

Cunningly on its part, ACC's arguments often do not oppose outright the EPA proposals.  Rather, it seeks to put off their implementation for as long as possible.  EPA's proposed rule calls for reporting in 2011 that would provide information for years 2006 and forward.  In contrast, ACC would have EPA put off implementation of all of its proposed IUR enhancements, with the result that both EPA and the public would not get any of the additional information until at least 2015.

Like we said in the title of this post:  Reporting deferred is right-to-know denied.

We'll be posting more about ACC's comments in the coming weeks, but in this post, we'll consider the core argument ACC makes for deferral:  that "the business of chemistry is product-focused, not substance focused."  ACC would have us believe their member companies don't know what chemicals are in any of the products (i.e., mixtures of chemicals) they make and sell.

This argument warrants – ahem – additional scrutiny.  Read More »

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

Affirming a thing of beauty: Comments filed today support new EPA CBI policy

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

Today EDF joined with Earthjustice and 24 other health, labor and environmental organizations in filing comments with EPA that support its recently announced policy change restoring the public's right to know the identities of all chemicals for which health and safety data have been submitted to the agency.

I have already done a post on the details of EPA's new policy, which I termed "a thing of beauty."  The comments we filed today – in response to EPA's request when it issued its new policy back in May – make clear that the policy reflects both the clear meaning of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the clear intent of its drafters.   Read More »

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

Not playing nice: The American Chemistry Council solidifies its claim to being the "industry of no"

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

If you had any doubt when reading my post earlier this week that the chemical industry isn't serious about real TSCA reform, watch American Chemistry Council (ACC) President and CEO Cal Dooley's hard-line performance at yesterday's hearing before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (video link at the bottom of this page).  The legislative hearing focused on H.R. 5820, the Rush-Waxman Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 that was introduced last week.

All the themes I struck in my earlier blog post Mr. Dooley played out in spades:  more loud and long complaints aimed at every aspect of the bill; placing the worst possible interpretation on any provision subject to interpretation; playing the China and job-loss cards over and over; and last but not least, offering not a single constructive proposal of his own for reform.

A very different industry voice was also at the witness table, however – Howard Williams, V.P. & General Manager of the Pennsylvania division of Construction Specialties.  Mr. Williams deftly countered all of ACC's theatrics, embracing all of the bill's key provisions and making a strong business case for them.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

A thing of beauty: EPA restores a good chunk of the public’s right to know under TSCA

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

One rarely gets to use the words “elegant” and “Federal Register notice” in the same sentence.  But that’s the best way to describe the notice EPA published yesterday.  The notice states EPA will now review all confidentiality claims for chemical identity in health and safety studies, and announces to companies making such claims that they should expect soon thereafter to get a letter from EPA denying the claim.

In a concise and clearly reasoned notice, EPA sweeps away decades of poor policy and practice at the agency that was at odds with the clear intent of Congress under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Regulation| Also tagged | 4 Responses, comments now closed

A minimum data set: Why, what, how much and when?

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

As I noted in my last post, EDF and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition believe TSCA needs to ensure that basic safety data are developed and made available for all chemicals in commerce.  Such information is:

  • a core element of the public’s right-to-know;
  • embodied in the “no data, no market” concept already in place under the EU’s REACH; and
  • most importantly, critical for identifying BOTH:
    •  chemicals of concern we have not yet identified, due to data gaps; and
    • chemicals  presenting little or no concern, which may serve as safer alternatives to chemicals of concern but we need to be able to identify with greater confidence.

The chemical industry’s opposition to comprehensive data requirements is an inherent contradiction:  It is often the first to claim “regrettable substitution” when a chemical is restricted, asking: “How do we know the substitute is any better?”  The answer is we often won’t – UNLESS we take a comprehensive approach to data development

So what types of data, and how much, should comprise a minimum safety data set?  And when should it be submitted? Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Regulation, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Worse than we thought: Decades of out-of-control CBI claims under TSCA

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

I recently obtained – not without some effort on both EPA’s and my part – a scanned copy of a 1992 report commissioned by EPA innocuously titled “Influence of CBI Requirements on TSCA Implementation,” authored by the now-defunct Hampshire Research Associates.  I subsequently found a copy in an old EPA docket, located here (6 MB PDF file).

This understated yet remarkable report is a veritable treasure trove of information that painstakingly documents the rampant rise in illegitimate confidential business information (CBI) claims made by the chemical industry in the first decade after passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – and the very limited options available to EPA to stop such activity (despite recent admirable efforts on its part). Read More »

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

EPA starts to chip away at chemical secrecy; but don't stop here!

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

Tomorrow's Federal Register will contain a short notice from EPA that partially corrects a decades-old Agency practice that has denied the public access to the identity of chemicals that present substantial risks.

This welcome action begins to pull back the curtain on the chemical secrecy that has been a hallmark of life for the public under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  As I noted in a previous post, this action is one of a host of changes needed to remedy the major excesses and abuses of confidentiality under TSCA.  EPA's action makes clear that some things can be done even as we await TSCA reform.

Read More »

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