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Chemical Assessments



Creating an effective process for assessing chemicals is crucial for generating valuable exposure information and developing regulations that protect human health and the environment while preserving America’s ability to innovate. 

Policy Background

Federal assessments of chemical hazards and risks focus on understanding the inherent properties of substances in order to determine the likelihood of harm from a specific exposure. The public, businesses, and regulators at all levels of government look to these assessments as a reliable source of information about the potential hazards and risks associated with chemicals.

The determinations from assessments are a critical part of the decision-making process for chemical management regulatory programs (e.g., Toxic Substances Control Act) and environmental regulations (e.g., Clean Air Act). Access to accurate and useful data regarding potential hazards and risks is necessary in order for these programs to effectively protect human health and the environment, as well as provide for the development and use of chemicals that are vital to everyday life.

Several of the key federal chemical assessment programs are housed within different departments or agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

According to recent reports and studies, including the survey by the Center for Media and Public Affairs of George Mason University, the scientific foundation underpinning these programs must be improved to ensure agencies produce timely and credible assessments.

Sound science and transparency must be at the core of how the federal government evaluates the safety of chemicals. Flawed assessments can contribute to a lack of confidence in chemical management programs and environmental regulations, which use the assessments. They also can create public confusion, unwarranted alarm, and may lead to unnecessary cost and unnecessary product de-selection and litigation, all of which ultimately can have negative economic impacts without sound scientific basis.

Improving the quality of these assessments will lead to significant benefits for everyone. It will help drive better public health decisions based on accurate information and better use of public and private sector resources that can be refocused on protecting the public and the environment and on promoting American jobs and innovation.
 
ACC’s Policy Position

ACC and our members are committed to strengthening the process for conducting assessments, and we will continue to push for science-based improvements to ensure our nation’s chemical management system delivers sound public health decisions, while at the same time encourages the development of new products and economic growth. We will continue to refine the details of our principles for improving federal chemical assessments and are committed to working with all stakeholders toward enhancing the scientific basis of these programs.

ACC released a set of principles to address key issues such as enhancing problem formulation and design of assessments; improving data acquisition, evaluation, and integration methods; ensuring hazards and risks are accurately characterized and communicated; and strengthening independent scientific peer review and accountability.

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