[This is Part Two of a two-part series. Here is a link to Part One.]
Under this Administration, EPA has taken some significant steps toward reversing decades of passivity and secretive practices that evolved under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) when it came to transparency in decision-making and providing access to chemical information it obtains or develops.
Several initiatives undertaken through what EPA originally termed its enhanced chemicals management program have developed and laid out clearer policies and procedures in areas such as: chemical prioritization (leading to its Work Plan Chemicals Program); enforcing limits on and reviewing confidential business information (CBI) claims asserted by industry (leading to its declassification of hundreds of previously hidden chemical identities and health and safety studies that companies had illegitimately claimed confidential or no longer merited protection from disclosure, but that EPA had not bothered to review or challenge before now); and EPA’s regulatory efforts to reduce risks from exposures to toxic chemicals (leading to its Action Plans on high-concern chemicals and proposed follow-up activities for work plan chemicals where assessments – the first completed in decades – have identified significant risks).
EPA has also developed new databases and tools to provide greater access to chemical information in its possession and regulatory decisions and supporting documents it develops; these include the Chemical Data Access Tool and ChemView.
All of these efforts are still very much works in progress but hold significant potential to improve transparency, information access and risk reduction.
But sometimes the Agency does something that makes clear just how far it still has to go in these respects. Unfortunately, a case in point is its recent effort toward assessing risks of a cluster of flame retardant chemicals, the brominated phthalates, some of which are in wide use and are showing up in everything from house dust to dolphins. Read More