Monthly Archives: March 2011

TSCA reform advocates to ACC: Give us something to work with!

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

An article just out in Chemical Week by senior editor Kara Sissel simply nails it in describing the state of affairs on TSCA reform as it played out at last week’s GlobalChem conference.

The captions under the side-by-side photos of American Chemistry Council (ACC) President Cal Dooley and yours truly tell it all.  Mr. Dooley laments the increasingly complex and unpredictable regulatory landscape that finally drove ACC to shift away from its longstanding opposition to TSCA reform.  But my plea that it is long past time for ACC to come forward with its own specific proposals for that reform speaks to where things have been stuck for much of the past year.  Read More »

Posted in Health policy, TSCA reform / Tagged , | Comments are closed

EPA’s right-to-know effort declassifies the chemicals in 42 health and safety studies

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

EPA has just released today the full versions — showing the identities of the chemicals in question — of 41 “substantial risk” notices of health and safety studies it had previously received from companies that had denied the public’s right to know those identities by claiming them to be confidential business information (CBI).  These notices had been submitted pursuant to Section 8(e) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  One additional notice of a health and safety study that EPA had received under Section 8(d) of TSCA was also released today with its chemical identified.

What’s most significant about today’s posting is that it makes publicly available the identities of chemicals associated with health and safety data that:

  1. the submitting companies themselves believed the data “reasonably supports the conclusion that [the chemical] presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment;” and
  2. should have been publicly available all along, based on the plain language of TSCA that disallows health and safety studies to be claimed CBI in the first place.

Read More »

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One solid step for REACH, one giant leap for chemicals policy

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

While efforts to improve U.S. chemical safety legislation have been at, shall we say, a stand-still for the past few months, our European counterparts have been buzzing with activity.  U.S. NGOs, industry, regulators and lawmakers should be paying really close attention to all that buzz as they deliberate the shape of U.S. chemicals policy in the new Congress.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is currently in the thick of processing registrations received by the first major deadline under REACH, the European Union’s chemicals regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals.  November 30, 2010 was the first of three deadlines for registering existing chemicals (termed “phase-in substances” under REACH); it applied to the highest-volume and most hazardous chemicals on the market.  Some 4,700 new and existing chemicals have now been registered under REACH since it took effect in mid-2008, including about 3,500 existing chemicals subject to that first deadline based on high volume or toxicity.

In contrast to Las Vegas, what is happening in Europe is not staying in Europe.  That alone makes it worth paying attention to.  Read More »

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Advocates to treat chemical industry to free lunch at next week’s GlobalChem – no joke!

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

[Update 2:20 EDT:  For GlobalChem attendees who would like to attend our luncheon but won’t yet be at the conference on Monday, we have a call-in number you can use:  (800) 256-8682; code 43491.]

Next week is the chemical industry’s annual GlobalChem bash in Baltimore.  Like last year, there will be a session on “modernization” of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  I was the NGO representative in that session last year, but alas, my inbox never saw an invite this year.  This year’s session will instead be limited to four industry speakers and there won’t be anyone from the advocacy community speaking in any other session of this year’s conference.

Might that be because the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition that EDF helped found held a rally in plain view of last year’s conference that featured a 20-foot-high rubber ducky and the message:  “Chemical industry — You can’t duck real reform!”?

But no matter.  To show our magnanimity, our coalition will be back this year on the first day (Monday, March 21) of the GlobalChem conference – and this time we’ll be offering a free lunch to the participants.  Lunch will be served from 11:30-12:30 in the same hotel, the Hilton Baltimore, that is hosting the industry conference.  But there’s more than just lunch on the menu … .   Read More »

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Chemical safety evaluation: Packing tox tests into single drops of liquid!

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Parts in this series:      Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4

In my last post I introduced EPA’s collaborative NexGen effort and briefly described the scientific advances underpinning the program.  In this post, I’ll explore some of the potential power of EPA’s efforts, which will require that we get a bit into the nitty gritty (nerd spoiler alert!).

NexGen is focusing on how new scientific knowledge and technological capabilities may interplay with traditional hazard and risk assessment that predominantly relies on more expensive and time-consuming animal studies.

There has been a lot of buzz around what is called high-throughput (HT) testing of chemicals.  Just last week, EPA issued a public statement describing the unveiling of a new robot housed at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC).  I highly recommend watching the robot in action by clicking on the “Toxicity Testing Robot System” video link available on the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute’s website.  The robot is scheduled to test 10,000 chemicals for potential toxicity!   So, what does that actually mean?  Read More »

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ACC endorses cumulative impact assessment for all TSCA regulations!

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

In what seemed a startling move, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) last week gave testimony at a Congressional hearing that included a full-throated endorsement of mandating that EPA be required to assess cumulative impacts when developing regulations addressing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The call for cumulative impact assessment was a contentious element in last year’s debate over the safety standard that would apply to chemicals under a reformed TSCA.  Reform advocates supported assessing such impacts where the science allows, while ACC had staunchly opposed the concept.  The need to account for cumulative impacts is also a key recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, in its recent reports Science and Decisions:  Advancing Risk Assessment (2009) and Phthalates and Cumulative Risk Assessment:  The Tasks Ahead (2008).

Ah, but the devil is indeed in the details:  ACC’s apparent change of heart is no such thing.  Rather, ACC is endorsing a step that would make it even harder for EPA to act to control dangerous chemicals under TSCA, namely that the agency would have to consider the cumulative impact of all prior regulations affecting a given industry before it could propose a  new one.  Read More »

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