New Tool to Assess Chemical Risks

Monday, September 12, 2011 @ 04:09 PM gHale

With a possible solution to the Environmental Protection Agency’s quest to update the Toxic Substances Control Act, a new scientifically-based system from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) could help the EPA decide which chemicals require additional review and assessment.

“As outlined in ACC’s principles for modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), establishing a clear and scientifically sound prioritization process is key to creating a world-class chemical management system,” said ACC President and Chief Executive Cal Dooley. “We believe the prioritization tool we’re proposing today will help EPA evaluate chemicals more efficiently and effectively and improve public confidence in the agency’s regulation of chemicals.”

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Now 35 years old, TSCA does not dictate a process to use the information currently available to prioritize chemicals for review. ACC said with no system in place, EPA may be wasting time, energy, and resources gathering and analyzing data on chemicals already understood or unlikely to pose a significant risk to public health or the environment.

“ACC worked closely with experts from our member companies to develop a tool that will enable the public, public health officials, lawmakers, and businesses to understand better which chemicals and uses warrant priority evaluation by EPA and which do not,” said Mike Walls, the council’s vice president of Regulatory and Technical Affairs.

The system would evaluate chemicals against consistent scientific criteria that take into account hazard and exposure, giving each chemical a score based on the criteria and then ranking it based on the scores and EPA’s best professional scientific judgment. The rankings could then determine which chemicals go to EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention for further assessment.

Representatives from ACC met with officials at EPA to discuss the tool. “We are glad that EPA has recognized the urgent need to prioritize chemicals for review,” Dooley said.

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