Time for a new age for new chemicals

By Maria Doa, PhD, Senior Director, Chemicals Policy, Samantha Liskow, Senior Counsel, and Colin Parts, Legal Fellow

NOTE: This is the first of a series about EPA’s regulation of new chemicals.

What Happened?

EPA recently proposed regulations to govern how it reviews companies’ pre-manufacture notifications for new chemicals before those chemicals can go on the market.

Why It Matters

Unfortunately, as we noted in our comments to EPA [PDF, 721KB], the proposal falls significantly short of implementing the fundamental changes needed to ensure the safety of any new chemicals allowed onto the market.

Our Take

EPA has a major opportunity to improve the New Chemicals Program by crafting regulations that ensure EPA conducts robust, transparent, and objective reviews of all new chemicals that will fully protect human health and the environment, including for those people at greatest potential risk.

The agency should also align its new chemical regulations with what Congress intended when it reformed TSCA in 2016.

Among Congress’s reforms are:

  • Greater transparency on the information EPA uses and how the agency makes safety determinations for new chemicals.
  • Greater consideration of the risks from chemical exposures we all face, including risks from chemicals like the forever chemicals PFAS.
  • Greater attention by EPA in its assessments and decisions to the risks to communities more highly exposed to chemicals and those who may be more susceptible to toxic chemicals (e.g., infants).

EPA’s proposed rule misses the mark in all these areas.

EPA must improve its processes to consider all stakeholders—not just industry—in all aspects of its safety review of new chemicals. Those would include the information EPA considered, its assessment of risks, the impact of those risks, and the basis for decisions on the safety of the chemicals.

What’s Next?

This blog series will look at the ways EPA could improve its rule, including by:

  • Eliminating industry’s undue influence over new chemical reviews.
  • Requiring industry to include information in its new chemical submissions that EPA needs to make timely and truly informed decisions on the safety of new chemicals.
  • Ensuring that new chemical reviews are consistent with Congress’ mandate in amended TSCA.
  • Ensuring that decisions EPA makes consider all stakeholders, not just industry.
  • Eliminating exemptions from full new chemical reviews for PFAS and other persistent, bioaccumulative toxic chemicals known to have long-lasting effects on us.

In our next post, we will recommend ways EPA can improve its assessments by eliminating industry influence.

Go Deeper

Read our previous blogs on new chemicals.

Follow these links to read the subsequent blogs in the series:

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