EDF Health

Selected tag(s): Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT)

Smoke and Mirrors: ACC lawyers are working hard to rein in your right to know

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

I’ve blogged here frequently about EPA’s efforts over the past couple of years to make more chemical information available to the public, especially health and safety information.  A key part of this, believe it or not, is simply making sure that when EPA shares a health study with the public – as required by law – you get to know the identity of the chemical that is the subject of that study.

EPA’s initial steps (see below) were met with a little grumbling on the part of the chemical industry, but not a whole lot.  After all, the industry says it wants the public to have more information about chemicals.  At #7 on the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) top 10 principles for TSCA reform is:  “Companies and EPA should work together to enhance public access to chemical health and safety information.”

Times, apparently, have changed.  In recent weeks, ACC has launched a broadside attack on the EPA’s efforts to compel its member companies ever to name a chemical when submitting health and safety information to EPA.  My evidence?  A 36-page White Paper delivered by ACC to the office of the regulatory czar at the Office of Management and Budget, at a meeting held there on January 20.  The ACC document is a wonder of tortured logic, obfuscation and selective renditions of the history of TSCA.

Today, a response was mounted.  EDF and Earthjustice staff, as well as representatives of health-affected individuals, environmental justice communities and workers, held their own meeting with OMB officials.  And we delivered our own letter to OMB that thoroughly rebuts ACC’s White Paper.  It also points out that, way back in 1976, the drafters of TSCA actually wanted you to have access to health and safety information on chemicals – and they darn well didn’t expect you to have to guess at the identity of those chemicalsRead More »

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A modest proposal: ACC should support and defend President’s proposed budget increase for EPA chemical safety efforts

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

President Obama unveiled his FY2012 budget yesterday, and the news was rather bleak for EPA:  a proposed 13% decrease.  But one bright spot was a proposed $16.1 million boost in funding for EPA’s chemicals management efforts using its current limited authorities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

That additional funding, according to EPA, is to be directed at activities to further “reduce chemical risks, increase the pace of chemical hazard assessments, and provide the public with greater access to chemical information so they can make better informed decisions about their health.  Learning more about these chemicals will help protect Americans from potential threats to their health.”

What is perhaps most refreshing is EPA’s rationale for its proposal to maintain and enhance its renewed focus on chemical safety (see pages 55-56 of this EPA budget summary):

Chemicals are often released into the environment as a result of their manufacture, processing, use, and disposal. Research shows that children are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before they even are given solid food. Other vulnerable groups, including low-income, minority, and indigenous populations, may also be disproportionately impacted by and thus particularly at risk from chemical exposure.

So, what would the money go to, and how will the chemical industry respond?  Read More »

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Raising the bar for chemical safety will spur, not stifle, innovation

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

An emerging chemical industry talking point in TSCA reform is the claim that imposing new requirements on new chemicals will somehow stifle innovation.  The milder manifestation of this perspective emanates from those who oppose requiring a safety determination for new chemicals unless they raise major red flags in an initial review.

But some in the industry go further, arguing that even requiring safety data for new chemicals would put the big chill on development of new chemicals.

I beg to differ with both arguments.  This post will make the opposite case, and will also argue that true innovation embraces rather than shuns safety, and demands the information needed to demonstrate it. Read More »

Posted in Health policy, Regulation, TSCA reform / Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Read 5 Responses