Selected tags: data requirements

The perverting of prioritization: How a good idea for TSCA reform went bad – and how to save it

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

For years, the concept of prioritization as an element of TSCA reform has enjoyed support from a broad array of stakeholders.  The number of chemicals in active commerce is large, if uncertain:  surely less than the 85,000 listed on the TSCA Inventory, but still in the tens of thousands. That sheer number demands that EPA develop and apply a process to decide where to start and how to sequence the enormous task of reviewing the safety of those chemicals. 

There has also been widespread agreement that EPA should make an initial pass using available information to identify three groups of chemicals:  a) those that present significant hazard or exposure potential or both; b) those for which existing information doesn’t raise such concerns; and c) those that need more information to determine their level of concern.

As conceived, prioritization was to be a low-stakes proposition for the various stakeholders, simply the means to get the new system up and running.  Prioritization decisions would not be final actions; rather, they were expressly designed to minimize dispute, and would be barred from legal challenge.  Chemicals identified as high priority and in need of immediate scrutiny would get a more thorough assessment before any decision as to whether they posed significant risk and required a regulatory response.  Chemicals identified as low-priority would be so designated provisionally based on less than a thorough assessment, and could be revisited if and when new information arose.  And chemicals lacking sufficient information to be prioritized would be subject to further data collection and generation, and then funneled back into the prioritization process.

These concepts are well-established both in the outcomes of industry-NGO negotiations and in heavily negotiated provisions of the more recent incarnations of the Safe Chemicals Act.

But then some folks got greedy.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform | Also tagged , | Leave a comment

West Virginia officials trust shaky science in rush to restore water service: One-part-per-million “safe” threshold has questionable basis

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

[SEE NOTE ADDED 1/15/14 BELOW]

In a press conference today outlining plans to restart the water system serving 300,000 people, West Virginia state officials and executives from the West Virginia American Water utility company stressed that levels of the toxic chemical that contaminated the supply after last week’s spill had reached a “safe” level of one part per million (1 ppm), the threshold agreed upon by state and federal officials on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the science behind this standard remains unclear.  Based on what we do know, there are good reasons to believe that officials are overlooking significant health risks.  Read More »

Posted in Environment, Health Policy, Regulation | Also tagged , , , | 36 Responses, comments now closed

Repost: The new Safe Chemicals Act fulfills every detail of ACC’s 10 “Principles for Modernizing TSCA”

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

[NOTE:  I am reposting this piece, given that it was first posted during the dog days of August and I don't want those interested to have missed it in digging out from time away from the office.  If you have an interest in understanding just how much the Safe Chemicals Act has changed to account for earlier industry concerns, please take the time to look at the analysis I've done comparing the bill to ACC's TSCA Principles.]

You wouldn’t know it from listening to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) talk about the Safe Chemicals Act, but the new and improved version of the bill that was passed out of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on July 25 closely mirrors every detail of ACC’s 10 “Principles for Modernizing TSCA.”.

Those principles, issued in August of 2009, represent a key reference point given that they are virtually the only somewhat detailed public articulation by ACC of its substantive position on TSCA reform, one to which ACC continues to refer today.  In describing its principles, ACC says they “create a roadmap to a modern chemical regulatory system that will protect public health and the environment, while preserving the ability of American chemical companies to drive innovation, grow jobs, and compete in the global marketplace.”

ACC indicated in its statement on the revised bill that it only conducted a “cursory review” of the bill language, which perhaps explains why it got even some basics wrong.  One example:  ACC claims “[t]he bill would also dramatically increase the time it would take for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review new chemicals.”  In fact, the revised bill retains the 90-day review period for new chemicals operable under current TSCA.

So how does the bill stack up against ACC’s 10 Principles for TSCA Modernization?  Read More »

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

The new Safe Chemicals Act fulfills every detail of ACC’s 10 “Principles for Modernizing TSCA”

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

You wouldn’t know it from listening to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) talk about the Safe Chemicals Act, but the new and improved version of the bill that was passed out of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on July 25 closely mirrors every detail of ACC’s 10 “Principles for Modernizing TSCA.”.

Those principles, issued in August of 2009, represent a key reference point given that they are virtually the only somewhat detailed public articulation by ACC of its substantive position on TSCA reform, one to which ACC continues to refer today.  In describing its principles, ACC says they “create a roadmap to a modern chemical regulatory system that will protect public health and the environment, while preserving the ability of American chemical companies to drive innovation, grow jobs, and compete in the global marketplace.”

ACC indicated in its statement on the revised bill that it only conducted a “cursory review” of the bill language, which perhaps explains why it got even some basics wrong.  One example:  ACC claims “[t]he bill would also dramatically increase the time it would take for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review new chemicals.”  In fact, the revised bill retains the 90-day review period for new chemicals operable under current TSCA.

So how does the bill stack up against ACC’s 10 Principles for TSCA Modernization?  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform | 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

ECHA gives a CoRAP: REACH substance evaluation kicks off with list of target chemicals

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

Posts to this blog concerning REACH – the European Union’s regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals – have dealt mainly with the “R” and “A”.  A few weeks ago, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) took a first big step to capitalize on the “E” (Evaluation).

Specifically, the final 2012-2014 Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) was published on February 29th (see ECHA’s press release).  After many months of consultation with the Member States, ECHA has released the list of 90 chemicals that will be the first to undergo REACH’s substance evaluation process in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Existing data guided the prioritization process that led to the production of this list, but REACH’s authorities granted for substance evaluation will allow ECHA and the Member States to gather new information to fill data gaps.  This new information will help to improve both governmental and public knowledge about the risks these chemicals may pose to human health and the environment.  Read More »

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

More “A”-level work under REACH: ECHA adds eight chemicals to the Authorization List

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

The European Commission has formally added eight more chemicals to the list of chemicals subject to authorization under the European Union’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).  These eight chemicals, which were proposed for addition to the Authorization List (or Annex XIV) in December 2010, join the six inaugural chemicals that were formally listed last February (see EDF’s blog post on that occasion).  The full Authorization List is available on ECHA’s website; the list also specifies the corresponding sunset date by which time uses of a chemical must cease unless specifically authorized. Read More »

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

No orphan left behind: Health and environmental NGOs support EPA’s proposed paired rules to address high production volume "orphan" chemicals

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

Environmental Defense Fund today submitted comments along with 15 other health, environmental justice and state and national environmental organizations, in support of EPA’s proposed rule to address the final batch of 45 “orphan” chemicals that were never sponsored under the agency’s earlier High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program.

An earlier post to this blog highlighted and applauded the novel, innovative and efficient approach EPA has proposed, which actually entails the coupling of two rules:

(1) a test rule for 23 of these HPV chemicals for which EPA can make the requisite exposure findings to require testing, combined with:

(2) a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for the other 22 HPV chemicals for which EPA cannot presently make such findings, which requires companies to notify EPA if their production or use of those chemicals changes so as to increase the potential for exposure and then warrant testing.

The comments we filed today reiterate our strong support for this approach – and propose that the same approach be extended to several additional batches of HPV chemicals that still lack a basic set of hazard data.

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

ACC’s chemical prioritization tool: Helpful, but flawed and off the mark for EPA to use without TSCA reform

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

As I noted in my last post, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued its own “prioritization tool” in anticipation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public meetings  to get input on the approach it will use to identify additional chemicals of concern under its Enhanced Chemicals Management Program.

In the context of TSCA reform, various actors in the industry have long called for prioritization, often saying they support EPA’s ability to get off to a quick start on identifying chemicals for further work – only to propose schemes that are more likely to do the opposite.

ACC itself has over time come off as a bit schizophrenic on prioritization, apparently being for it before they were against it.  ACC’s release of its tool puts it squarely back in the pro-prioritization camp, but just what is it proposing?  My sense is it’s after something quite different from what EPA proposes, and frankly, different from what EPA is currently capable of deploying, given its limited authority and resources under TSCA.  In this sense, ACC’s proposal is more relevant in the context of TSCA reform, where we presumably would have an EPA with a mandate to review all chemicals in commerce, the authority to readily get the data it needs, and the resources required to execute the kind of comprehensive prioritization scheme ACC proposes.

But setting that disconnect aside for the moment, let’s delve a bit deeper into the ACC proposal on its own merits.  Read More »

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