Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
[UPDATE 4-29-15: On April 28, 2015, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed a revised version of the Lautenberg Act out of the committee on a bipartisan 15-5 vote. The new bill made a few revisions to provisions discussed in this post; see updates below.]
[UPDATE 5-17-15: On May 14, 2015, the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy passed a revised version of the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 out of the subcommittee on a bipartisan 21-0 vote. The new draft made several revisions to provisions discussed in this post; see updates dated 5-17-15 below. UPDATE 5-28-15: The legislation was formally introduced as H.R. 2576 on May 26, 2015. ]
This is the third in a series of blog posts looking at less talked-about, but critically important, elements of bipartisan legislative proposals to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This post deals with how EPA would select which chemicals would undergo safety evaluations.
Under current TSCA, EPA has no mandate to review the safety of existing chemicals. There are no pacing requirements, such as specifying minimum numbers of chemicals to be examined. The law provides no criteria for EPA to use in identifying chemicals that may pose risks. There are no requirements for EPA to establish goals for reviews or schedules for any reviews it does undertake.
Safety reviews are rarely undertaken, and often consume many years (or even decades) – in large part because there are no mandates or deadlines. As a result of these aspects of the current law, only about 2% of the chemicals that were on the market at the time TSCA was enacted have undergone any sort of safety review.
In 2012, EPA on its own initiative undertook a prioritization process that has led to identification of about 90 so-called “work plan” chemicals, for which EPA is conducting or intends to conduct risk assessments; five have been completed to date.
How would TSCA reform legislation identify chemicals to be subjected to safety reviews? Read More