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Trade Group on EPA Chemical Regs: ‘If Everything is a Priority, Then Nothing is a Priority’

chemicals2.2n35dea34bk0sg0s0ow04gs8s.17ldmg3f9ou8088wk04c40sgo.thAs the U.S. House of Representatives considers how far the EPA should go in regulating chemicals used in everyday products, trade groups are cautioning against over-regulation.

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection took comments on the EPA’s proposed overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which governs the country’s chemicals policies. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released the Administration’s principles, called Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation, to “guide Congress in writing a new chemical risk management law that will fix the weaknesses in TSCA.”

As the House takes comments in the hearing, “Prioritizing Chemicals for Safety Determination,” industry groups are coming forward with their opinions.

Instead of a broad approach, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Consumer Specialty Products Association and the Soap and Detergent Association proposed a risk-based model, reports Supermarket News.

“A single factor, whether based on hazards or potential exposures, is not sufficient for a chemical to be deemed as a high priority chemical,” the groups said in a statement. “This will result in everything being a priority, and if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.”

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization said it is encouraged by the fact the House is looking at the matter.

As the largest victims’ organization, ADAO agrees with the World Health Organization, International Labour Organization (ILO), EPA and U.S. Surgeon General, that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure,” stated ADAO Executive Director, Linda Reinstein. “We need to move from consumer protection to the prohibition of deadly chemicals.”

Beth Bosley, representing the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, said that the U.S. should avoid following the path of the REACh regime in Europe, which she said would devastate small and medium-sized companies.

Bosley called for the EPA to conduct an “inventory reset,” or to determine which of the 80,000 chemicals listed in the TSCA inventory are actually still in use. She estimated that amount at about a third.

“Because of the vast number of chemicals and applications, we do not think that EPA should be burdened with a determination that each chemical is safe for its intended use,” she said.

EPA has identified an initial list of chemicals for possible risk management action and expects to post an initial set of four action plans in December. These include benzidine dyes and pigments (used in textiles, leather, and paper products), bisphenol A (BPA) (used in plastic containers including baby bottles), perfluorinated chemicals (used in a variety of consumer products such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products), phthalates (found in medical devices), short-chain chlorinated paraffins (used as plasticisers in paint, sealants and adhesives), and penta, octa, and decabromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (used as flame retardants in a variety of consumer products).

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3 thoughts on “Trade Group on EPA Chemical Regs: ‘If Everything is a Priority, Then Nothing is a Priority’

  1. Thanks Environmental Leader, for posting something about keeping us safe. I think making industrial chemicals safe is something we can all get behind.

    Many people and scientists agree that current legislation which regulates chemicals must be reformed. However, we should also be sure to reform the science that underlies these regulations—namely, the way in which toxicity testing is conducted.

    Currently, toxicity testing is largely based on experiments in animals and uses methods that were developed as long ago as the 1930’s and 40’s; they and are slow, inaccurate, open to uncertainty and manipulation, and do not adequately protect human health. These tests take anywhere from months to years, and tens of thousands to millions of dollars to perform. More importantly, the current testing paradigm has a poor record in predicting effects in humans and an even poorer record in leading to actual regulation of dangerous chemicals.

    Fortunately, many scientists have worked, and are working, on addressing these problems — and alternatives to animal testing exist in a powerful way. Chemical reform should not only modernize policy, but modernize the science that supports that policy. Let’s ensure Kids-Safe uses all the necessary tools to truly make our children, our environment, and animals safe.

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