Chemical manufacturers say delays in bringing new chemicals to market — an unanticipated consequence of the updated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — are hurting their businesses and stifling innovation, Chemical & Engineering News reports.
Six months ago Congress updated the 40-year-old law, requiring new testing and regulation of thousands of chemicals used in everything from cleaning products to paint thinners and clothing. And now there’s a backlog of new chemicals waiting to be reviewed. As a result, paints and coatings are threatening to move their businesses overseas where they won’t have to deal with strict regulatory burdens.
Unlike the old TSCA, the new law requires the EPA to test all existing and new chemicals to determine if they pose a threat to human health or the environment. It also gives the agency authority to request additional toxicity data from manufacturers.
Since the TSCA amendment was signed into law, only 33 of the 308 new chemicals under review have been allowed to enter the US market, C&EN writes.
While chemical manufacturers’ trade group, the American Chemistry Council, supported the reformed law when it passed Congress, at a public meeting on Dec. 14 in Washington, DC, the ACC questioned the EPA’s approach.
“We believe that much of EPA’s approach today is creating a backlog and time delays in bringing new chemistries to market,” said Karyn M. Schmidt, ACC senior director of chemical regulation. “We are seeing that effect now,” she said, adding that the backlog “is becoming more serious with time.”
C&EN also reports Jim Cooper, senior petrochemical adviser at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, urged EPA not to venture too far into the hypothetical when it assess new chemicals. “What ifs can go too far,” Cooper said.
Last month the EPA named asbestos and nine other chemicals as the first 10 substances it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under the updated TSCA. And earlier this month the agency proposed a ban on some uses of trichloroethylene (TCE) under the new law because the agency says it poses health risks when used as a degreaser and a spot removal agent in dry cleaning.