Selected tags: Safe Chemicals Act

Why can’t ACC tell the truth about the Safe Chemicals Act?

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

It’s very disheartening to see just how far the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has moved away from anything resembling a good-faith effort to debate and advance meaningful reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  There’s more than enough in TSCA reform for stakeholders to debate and disagree about without adding distortions and outright falsehoods to the mix, yet ACC seems intent on doing just that.

The latest indication?  An April 16, 2013 post to ACC’s blog titled “A new year, but the same unworkable Safe Chemicals Act.”  The post purports to identify four fatal flaws in the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, which was introduced on April 10 and is cosponsored by 29 Senators.  The first two utterly ignore or fault the legislation for major changes made to it to address industry concerns, while the latter two once again restate outright falsehoods ACC has made about the Act – claims that ACC knows are false.  Read More »

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

Two safer chemicals initiatives garner national headlines: Mind the Store campaign and The Safe Chemicals Act of 2013

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

This morning, two major daily newspapers carried stories on initiatives to ensure the safety of products containing chemicals to which people are increasingly exposed in their daily lives.

A story in USA Today covers the launch of Mind the Store, a campaign that asks the top 10 retailers in the country to develop and make public their plans to address toxic chemicals in the consumer products they sell. 

Also today, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on the introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 in the U.S. Senate, which would amend the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for the first time since its passage 37 years ago. 

See more information on each of these initiatives below.  Read More »

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

Small is beautiful: Polling shows huge bipartisan support for TSCA reform among small business owners

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

This week, the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a bipartisan national survey of 511 small business owners conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies. The survey showed that small business owners, just like voters, support stronger chemical safety regulations to mitigate the risks posed to human health and the environment by toxic chemicals.

Small business owners are an important part of the discussion on TSCA reform; the chemical industry frequently uses this group as an excuse to oppose tighter regulations, claiming that these regulations are “bad for business” and would detrimentally harm small business owners. In contrast, the survey shows that there is broad consensus among small business owners on the need to ensure the safety of their products and their customers.  Read More »

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

The Sweet Smell of … Cardiovascular Hazards?

Kyle Ward is an intern in EDF's Health Program.  Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

When you think of air fresheners what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Fresh spring flowers?  French vanilla?  Reduced Heart Rate Variability?  While that last one may not be on everyone’s mind, it certainly has been for one team of scientists.  They have recently conducted the first study ever to examine the potential for exposure to household cleaning sprays, air fresheners and scented products to adversely affect people’s cardiovascular systems.  Their findings, published in last month’s Environmental Health Perspectives, show a linkage between long-term use of household sprays and scented products and reduced heart rate variability (HRV).  Reduced HRV is associated with increased risk for a host of negative health effects ranging from heart attack to death.   Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

If you can’t say anything nice …

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.  EDF intern Lydia Kaprelian assisted with the analysis of trade association statements reported in this post.

In response to last week’s noteworthy mark-up of the Safe Chemicals Act, six major trade associations issued statements commenting on the event (see links at the end of this post).  I was struck by the broad spectrum of reaction and decided to do a little analysis.  I counted up the number of positive and negative comments or items noted in each statement about the bill, and then plotted them on a graph, along with the percentage of all comments in each statement that were negative.  Here’s how it looks:

The first thing that jumps out is how much of an outlier the American Chemistry Council (ACC) is, way off there on the lower right of the chart all by itself.  Talk about extreme (the word ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley used to describe the Safe Chemicals Act; subscription required).  Despite the fact that the bill was heavily rewritten to accommodate industry concerns, ACC couldn’t find a single positive thing to say about it, but really piled on with the negatives.  Do ACC member companies really want to be in that extreme of a position in this debate?  Read More »

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

Resources for today's historic markup of the Safe Chemicals Act

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

Today's the day:  At or about 10 am EDT this morning, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will take up a major amendment offered by Senator Lautenberg to his Safe Chemicals Act, which would for the first time overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

[UPDATE Wednesday afternoon:  The EPW Committee voted 10-8 to pass the amended Safe Chemicals Act!!]

Here are some things that should help you to make sense of it all.

I hope these links help you to tune in or otherwise follow today's events.

 

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

A pivotal moment for TSCA reform

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

We have reached a pivotal moment in the quest for meaningful reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):  On Wednesday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will mark up a new and improved version of the Safe Chemicals Act.  To my knowledge, this will be the first time a vote has been taken in the U.S. Congress to amend the basic provisions of TSCA since its passage in 1976.

The markup will come after today’s oversight hearing in the same committee spurred by a set of events that couldn’t provide a better poster child for why this law needs so badly to be overhauled:  An exposé published in the Chicago Tribune on the massive use in everyday household items of a set of flame retardant chemicals that were grandfathered in under TSCA 36 years ago along with more than 60,000 others.  Their safety was never required to be determined, let alone established – yet we now know these toxic chemicals not only do not serve their claimed purpose, but are so persistent in the environment and build up in people such that every American – including newborn babies – carries them in our bodies.

While we still have quite a ways to go to achieve real and lasting TSCA reform, the new language represents real progress toward the “sweet spot” – striking the right balance between the dual needs of ensuring vital public health protections, sustaining the economic health of the chemical industry and spurring it to innovate toward safer chemicals.  Any objective reader of the new language will see, for example, that it better tailors and paces information requirements, ensures speed to market for new chemicals, and enhances protection of companies’ proprietary interests in chemicals they develop.

The changes reflect the sustained efforts of a group of diverse stakeholders who dedicated themselves over the last many months to seek out common ground and to provide substantive input on the legislation, often in the face of considerable opposition.  Relative to the introduced version of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, major sections have been completely rewritten to address key concerns heard from all stakeholders, including those not willing to come to the table.

While further progress is needed, the changes being made to the legislation are direct and tangible evidence of the fact that when stakeholders positively engage in the legislative process, the result is an improved bill.

EDF and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition stand committed to continuing to work after Wednesday’s markup with all parties willing to engage with us in good faith toward finding more common ground.  This week in particular, it is vital that those who have sought out such common ground stand behind the progress made to date and make clear they are committed to taking this forward.

 

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

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 , | 2 Responses, comments now closed
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