IHS Chemical Week

CHEM IDEAS

TSCA Reform: Enhance Rather than OverHaul

9:52 AM MDT | March 24, 2009 | By JOE ACKER

The first of what could be many Congressional hearings on the topic of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform was held in late February, 2009. Some that testified at the hearing believe a sweeping overhaul of the system is necessary. Socma agrees that certain aspects of the TSCA program could be improved, but does not believe that implementing a program like Europe’s Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) initiative would lead to greater protection of human health and the environment. This position was presented very effectively at that hearing by Jim DeLisi, President of Fanwood Chemical, Inc., and we at Socma are very grateful for his efforts.

 

Since it was enacted, TSCA has been a flexible law allowing innovation while protecting the welfare of both people and the environment. Under these regulations, the chemical industry, which is vital to the U.S. economy, has been able to thrive while at the same time reducing its environmental, health and safety impacts. TSCA’s “unreasonable risk” standard is based on sound science and requires consideration of both a chemical’s intrinsic hazard properties and the potential routes of exposure when determining the potential risk it may pose. Any revised version of TSCA should maintain this approach.

 

Areas where TSCA can be enhanced include data gathering and information sharing. EPA’s authority can be more broadly implemented under various sections of TSCA to enable the agency to collect more data on new chemicals. Opportunities also exist for collaborating with other agencies – within the US, such as the FDA and OSHA - and internationally. For example, volumes of data are being generated for the European Reach program. EPA should be able to take advantage of these efforts, as other countries benefit from work being conducted here.

 

In fact, through the Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) initiated in 2007 along with Canada and Mexico, EPA is already prioritizing chemicals by hazard and risk in order to systematically decide what further regulatory action may be needed and is also working to adjust the TSCA inventory to more accurately identify chemicals currently in commerce.

 

At Socma, we hope that Congress will focus its inquiry on identifying ways to better implement existing authorities and activities and enhancing TSCA. A complete overhaul of the system and replacement with a rigid approach like Europe’s Reach could have serious unintended consequences, such as delaying the development of new products and hastening the move to offshore manufacturing, with disproportional impacts on small businesses, such as Socma members. Adequate funding, access to necessary resources, maintaining a science-based framework, and placing an emphasis on fully implementing existing authorities and maximizing programmatic and collaborative efforts will go a long way to improving the effectiveness of TSCA without hampering innovation and growth.

 













 
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