EDF Health

Selected tag(s): New chemicals

Reversing the last administration’s TSCA new chemicals policies needs to be a priority for this one

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

Reprinted by permission from The Environmental Forum®, May/June 2021. MAY/ JUNE 2021 | 55
Copyright © 2021, Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, D.C. www.eli.org.

[NOTE:  This post is my contribution to a debate on TSCA implementation published by ELI.  I wrote this piece, which ELI titled “Reversing New Chemicals Program a Priority,” in late March.]

As with so much else these past four years, implementation of the 2016 reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act was not normal.

Despite bipartisan support for TSCA’s overhaul and the chemical industry’s acknowledgment that it needed a stronger federal system to restore public confidence in its products, this progress evaporated virtually overnight with the ascendance of the most anti-environmental and anti-public health administration in our lifetimes.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Trump EPA’s systematic undermining of the new TSCA’s enhancements of safety reviews for the hundreds of new chemicals entering commerce each year. The chemical industry, its army of law firms, and its political plants inside EPA went for broke.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, TSCA Reform / Tagged | Comments are closed

The damage done, Part 1: A post-mortem on the Trump EPA’s assault on TSCA’s new chemicals program

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

Part 1 of a 2-part series (see Part 2 here)

With last week’s announcement by EPA that it intends to reverse two of the most damaging policy changes the Trump EPA made to EPA’s reviews of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), there is hope that going forward EPA’s reviews will once again conform to TSCA’s requirements and better protect workers, consumers, the public and the environment.

Predictably, the chemical industry and its phalanx of law firms – who demanded and embraced the Trump EPA’s policy reversals – have been howling loudly, doing their best impressions of Chicken Little.  They predict huge backlogs and economic calamity of all sorts, including an end to American innovation, and their lawyers are already threatening legal action – a clever way to drum up business, no doubt.

The fact is that EPA spends scarce resources reviewing hundreds of new chemicals every year that their manufacturers are not serious about – and often not in any hurry about – commercializing.  And industry then uses any delays in those reviews to argue that the review process is too rigorous and demand that it be scaled back.

But facts are stubborn things.

In this first post I’ll look at a few reasons why the industry’s new round of fear-mongering is not based in fact.  And in a second post I’ll look at the decisions on new chemicals made under the Trump EPA to shed more light on the real reason why industry is upset:  It just may have lost the inside track that yielded such high dividends in the form of flawed approvals of hundreds of new chemicals.  Or, as one prominent industry attorney bluntly said recently in a related context, “the good days are over, quite frankly.”  Read More »

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

EDF welcomes EPA’s announcement of much-needed changes to its TSCA New Chemicals Program

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

Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced it is conducting a thorough review of its policies and procedures for assessing the safety of new chemicals prior to allowing their entry into commerce.

EPA’s announcement flags two immediate changes it is making to restore and realign the program’s practices with the major reforms Congress made in 2016 to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  These changes are critical to better ensure that new chemicals presenting potential risks to workers, the public, or the environment are not allowed onto the market absent restrictions sufficient to mitigate any risk.

First, EPA says it “will stop issuing determinations of ‘not likely to present an unreasonable risk’ based on the existence of proposed SNURs [Significant New Use Rules].”  TSCA requires EPA to review reasonably foreseen uses of a new chemical at the same time it considers a company’s intended uses.  If either type of use presents potential risk, TSCA requires EPA to issue an order restricting the new chemical to mitigate that risk.

We fully agree with EPA that it cannot exclude reasonably foreseen uses of a new chemical from its review by proposing a SNUR.  EPA’s clear statement that when it finds “one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, the agency will issue an order to address those potential risks” is precisely what TSCA requires.   By taking this step, EPA will reverse the illegal and unprotective approach the prior administration applied to hundreds of new chemicals over the last several years.

Second, EPA will take regulatory action by issuing an order whenever it identifies potential risks to workers from a new chemical, instead of simply assuming that workers are protected absent any binding requirement on employers.  TSCA identifies workers as warranting special protection under the law, yet the prior administration illegally allowed hundreds of new chemicals onto the market without any assured protections even where it found risks exceeding its own benchmarks by many-fold.

EDF looks forward to working with EPA to restore legal and scientific integrity to its TSCA program and realign it with the agency’s mission to protect health and the environment.

 

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

Trump EPA, ACC and industry law firms colluded to weaken EPA new chemical safety reviews

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

Records obtained through FOIA reveal extensive Trump EPA-industry collusion in a key area of TSCA implementation.

You know how sometimes you know something is going on behind closed doors, but you just can’t prove it?  Well, this isn’t one of those cases.

Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform / Also tagged | Read 1 Response

Righting the ship: A new chance for stronger protections against toxic chemicals

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

In June 2016, Congress passed historic, bipartisan legislation overhauling the Toxic Substances Control Act, the country’s main chemical safety law, to better protect the public from harmful exposure to toxic chemicals. The Trump administration has spent the last four years working to undermine TCSA by driving its implementation dangerously off the rails.

Now, with President-elect Biden set to take the helm in January, there’s a tremendous opportunity not only to repair the damage done by the Trump administration, but also to use the law proactively to ensure that everyone in the country is better protected from hazardous chemicals — with attention to those whose health is most at risk and to communities where exposures are greatest.

Here are five ways to restore sound and legal implementation of the law and strengthen health protections for families across the country.

Read More »

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Under the Trump EPA, no risk to workers is too high to impede a new chemical’s unfettered entry into the market

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

The Trump EPA’s understating of the risks to workers posed by both existing and new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been a frequent topic for this blog.  This disturbing, illegal policy continues unabated and, if anything, has accelerated and expanded to outright dismissal of worker health concerns.

The Trump EPA’s blatant shirking of its clear responsibilities under TSCA to identify and mitigate the serious risks that chemicals present to workers – who are on the front lines of chemical exposures – surely constitutes one of its most egregious failings.

In its reviews of new chemicals, EPA now frequently identifies serious risks to workers that exceed its own risk benchmarks, often many times over.  How great are the exceedances EPA finds and ignores?  Our examination of recent cases, described below, reveals exceedances as high as 25,000-fold.  In other words, EPA has found and then dismissed worker exposures to new chemicals at levels as much as 25,000 times higher than it deems acceptable. That is not a typo:  In a very recent case EPA found a dermal risk of reproductive effects to workers that exceeded its own benchmark by a factor of 25,000.

Any reasonable new chemical review that identified excess risk would then impose conditions blocking or conditioning the market entry of these chemicals in a manner sufficient to mitigate the identified risks.  Indeed, that is exactly what TSCA requires EPA to do.

Instead, the Trump EPA over and over again clears these chemicals entirely, ignoring its own risk findings to assert that the chemicals are “not likely to present unreasonable risk.”  This has now been done for hundreds of new chemicals EPA has reviewed in the past two years.

To illustrate what EPA is doing, we examined the 29 new chemicals EPA found “not likely to present unreasonable risk” (“not likely” determinations) since the beginning of June of this year.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation, TSCA Reform, Worker Safety / Tagged | Read 2 Responses