Monthly Archives: August 2010

States unite to support TSCA overhaul; chemical industry is increasingly odd one out

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

Yesterday, at its annual meeting, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Congress to enact strong and comprehensive reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

ECOS is comprised of the heads of the environmental agencies in the U.S. states and territories.  Its new resolution includes major elements of reform that EDF and the other health and environmental members of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families have been calling for.  Read More »

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Affirming a thing of beauty: Comments filed today support new EPA CBI policy

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

Today EDF joined with Earthjustice and 24 other health, labor and environmental organizations in filing comments with EPA that support its recently announced policy change restoring the public’s right to know the identities of all chemicals for which health and safety data have been submitted to the agency.

I have already done a post on the details of EPA’s new policy, which I termed “a thing of beauty.”  The comments we filed today – in response to EPA’s request when it issued its new policy back in May – make clear that the policy reflects both the clear meaning of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the clear intent of its drafters.   Read More »

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EPA seeks to improve TSCA data reporting; a real litmus test looms for the chemical industry

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

While I was on vacation last week, EPA’s proposed rule to improve chemical information reporting under its so-called Inventory Update Rule (IUR) was finally published in the Federal Register.  (I say “finally” because the proposal languished for almost 6 months over at OMB, nearly double the 90 days such mandatory reviews are supposed to take.  That unfortunate delay is curious given the relatively modest changes that appear to have been made by OMB – mostly limited to compelling EPA to shift a few elements from proposals to options open to comment, and requiring EPA to expand the range of issues on which it now seeks comment.)

I won’t summarize the EPA proposals here; EPA’s factsheet does a good job of that, and Daniel Rosenberg at NRDC has also nicely recapped the proposal on his blog.  Suffice it to say that the proposed changes would go far to address the many failings of the current IUR, which amply manifested themselves in the last reporting cycle and severely hampered EPA’s ability to assess high production volume (HPV) chemicals under its ill-fated ChAMP Initiative.

So how will the chemical industry react?  Here’s why I’ll be watching intently.  Read More »

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New EPA data: Dispersant likely not increasing acute lethality of oil in BP oil disaster

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

I had reported in an earlier post – based on data provided to EPA by Nalco, the maker of Corexit® 9500, the main dispersant being used in the Gulf – that the dispersant appeared to increase the acute aquatic toxicity of oil.

At a press conference today, EPA released data from the second round of its own testing on Corexit 9500 (and seven other dispersants), and concluded that the acute toxicity of the dispersant-oil mixture is about the same as the oil by itself.

What explains the discrepancy?  To put it most simply:   It’s not that the dispersant-oil mixture was less toxic in the EPA tests, it’s that the oil EPA used – which is the actual oil that has been leaking into the Gulf – was more toxic than the fuel oil Nalco had used.  Here’s a cartoon illustrating what I’m saying (the arrow shows the biggest change):

So the good news is that the dispersant doesn’t appear to be increasing the acute aquatic toxicity of the oil released into the Gulf.  The bad news is that the oil is pretty toxic, and the dispersant certainly doesn’t help directly with that.  And of course, the bigger questions about longer-term effects of dispersants and dispersed oil are not addressed by the new data.   Read More »

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