It is uncertain, and probably unlikely, that legislation to reform how chemicals are regulated at the federal level will emerge this year.
But, after a year of posturing by all sides, the first concrete step toward reforming the 34-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act is now a reality, with the introduction of bills in both the Senate and the House to reform TSCA. TSCA governs how the Environmental Protection Agency regulates chemicals.
There are differences between the Safe Chemicals Act introduced April 15 by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J, and the TSCA reform measure proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. Essentially, however, the bills would shift the burden of proof to industry to show that chemicals are safe.
In addition, the bills would require a minimum data set of use and exposure information for all chemicals, require EPA to assess chemical risks to a health-based safety standard, look at how chemicals impact sensitive subpopulations such as children and expectant mothers, and establish a framework for EPA to regulate chemicals of concern more quickly.
Reforming TSCA is a priority for the Obama administration, not just the EPA, said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of the EPA office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
Because of the current restrictions, EPA has been left without the ability to provide the American people assurance that chemicals they and their children use are safe, Owens said.
See PlasticsNews.com for a more complete version of this story, with comments from:
* Richard Denison, senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.
* Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council,
* David Sloan, president and CEO of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.
* Andy Igrejas, director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition.
* Michael Green, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University.
* Charles Auer, a former EPA executive now with Charles Auer & Associates LLC.
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