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Chemical Industry Proposes Assessment Tool to EPA

The American Chemistry Council is seeking to inform the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory revisions with a proposed system for prioritizing chemical review and assessment.

The council says that the EPA lacks a “consistent, transparent process” for evaluating which chemicals need further evaluation, and that the agency risks wasting time and resources gathering information on chemicals that are already well understood or do not pose a health or environmental risk. ACC says its prioritization tool, drawn up in consultation with member companies, would allow the EPA to apply objective criteria to prioritize chemicals for further review.

ACC said its representatives have met with EPA officials to discuss how the tool could inform an agency stakeholder dialogue on prioritization, taking place today, in which the council will also participate.

“We are glad that EPA has recognized the urgent need to prioritize chemicals for review,” ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley said.

ACC says that its process evaluates chemicals against transparent, consistent and scientific criteria that take into account both hazard and exposure (see diagram, above). Chemicals would be given a score based on the criteria, and then ranked based on their scores and the agency’s best scientific judgment.

The specific criteria would address human health hazards, potential environmental effects, a chemical’s industrial, commercial and/or consumer uses, whether it persists or accumulates in the body or the environment, and the production volume of the chemical in commerce. The tool also takes into account whether a chemical is used in children’s products or detected in biomonitoring programs.

The rankings could then be used to determine which chemicals should be referred to EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention for further assessment, ACC says. The tool is not intended to produce conclusions about which chemicals necessarily present a risk to human health or environment, the council added.

The EPA recently released a new Chemical Data Reporting rule, which the agency said will require chemical manufacturers to report critical information more often and submit new and updated information related to potential exposures, current production volume, manufacturing site data, and processing and use data for more chemicals. The rule will take effect at the next reporting period, February 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012.

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