• A modernized TSCA should encourage
technological innovation and a glob-
ally competitive industry in the U.S.
The debate over key TSCA reform provisions continues. In the meantime, interest in chemical management and
dialogue continues to expand around the
world. Last October, for example, China
promulgated regulatory requirements
similar to those of REACH.
Most U.S. states lack the means for collecting data on, evaluating and regulating toxic materials. As concern about the
health and environmental effects of toxics has risen, states have considered
chemicals on a case-by-case basis or
regulated them solely on disposal. Several state agencies have limited authority
over the same chemical but in different
products or at different stages of the
product’s life cycle. This approach has
created an apparently ineffective patchwork process for identifying, evaluating
and regulating chemicals in commerce.
The tide is shifting. Between 2003 and
2010, 71 chemical safety laws were
adopted in 18 states, encompassing 41
percent of the U.S. population.
legislation that controls toxic chemicals
appears to have passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The goals of the California Green
Chemistry Initiative, launched in 2007,
include developing a consistent means
for evaluating risk, reducing exposure,
encouraging less toxic industrial
processes, and identifying safer, nonchemical alternatives. Some proponents
consider green chemistry to be a new approach to occupational and environmental protection. Instead of managing toxic
chemicals at the end of the life cycle,
green chemistry attempts to reduce or
eliminate their use from the start.
The Green Chemistry Initiative and its
companion regulations could be some of
the most important environmental health
and safety legislation in more than 30
years. Under the state’s green chemistry
law, the California Department of Toxic
Substances Control within Cal-EPA was
directed to develop regulations for identifying “chemicals of concern” and regulating the consumer products that
contain those chemicals. These regulations require manufacturers to profile
their chemicals and associated full life
cycle risks before placing them in commerce. The question is whether the best
way to produce this information is
through regulation or promotion of research.
Industry groups and environmentalists
are closely following California’s efforts.
The state’s work could be a potential
model for other states and the federal
government to follow when evaluating
the use of toxic chemicals in consumer
products. Chemical makers and others,
however, remain cautious about the developing legislation, which has moved
through several drafts. It is a big jump
from draft agency policy principles language to implementation. Whatever the
outcome, California’s approach to identifying and selecting chemicals for regulatory action is expected to be more science
based, with quicker regulatory responses
and greater transparency, and, ultimately,
be more protective of consumers.
The Reform Debate
In 2009, the Obama administration endorsed reform of U.S. chemicals policy
with a proposal that chemical producers
be required to submit sufficient hazard,
exposure, and use data for EPA to determine whether chemicals meet a health-based safety standard.
5 Many believe
that this proposal could advance the argument for TSCA reform; however, the
jump from draft policy to agency implementation is immense. Can these
changes be put into action within a reasonable time frame? Will they make a
difference? Will they duplicate regulations already in existence?
In the best of situations, reform at the
federal and state levels would have several benefits. It would produce enhanced,
scientifically-based data on interrelated
factors affecting human health and
ecosystems. It would enable better decisions regarding the risks of consumer
products. It would give manufacturers
greater responsibility for generating scientific data on their products. It would
represent an integrated global chemical
policy, enable action in the face of scientific uncertainty, and result in more
However, reform might also mean
excessively conservative and possibly
conflicting regulations superimposed
on existing regulations; confusion over
requirements; and tremendous implemen-
Environmental Quality Organization, LLC, in
SusanD.Ripple,MS,CIH,istheNorthAmericaIn-dustrial Hygiene Expertise Center resource leader
1. OSHA: “Facts on Aligning the Hazard Communication Standard to the
GHS.” [Online] Available at www.
html (accessed February 23, 2011).
2. EPA: “High Production Volume Information System (HPVIS).” [Online]
Available at www.epa.gov/chemrtk/
hpvis/ index.html (accessed February
3. Schwarzmann, M.R., and M.P.
Wilson: “New Science for Chemicals Policy.” Science 326 (5956):
4. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families:
“30 States Nationwide to Announce
Upcoming Bills to Protect Kids and
Families from Toxic Chemicals on
Wed. Jan 19,” news release, Jan.
18, 2011 ( www.saferchemicals.org).
5. EPA: “Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management
Legislation.” [Online] Available at
cals/pubs/ principles.html (2009).
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