EDF Health

Selected tag(s): chemical identity

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 , | Read 2 Responses

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 , , , , | Read 2 Responses

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 are 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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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