We enjoy healthier and longer lives thanks in part to the ways chemistry is applied to help make our lives safer, from medical devices to air bags to clean drinking water.
As valuable as these products of chemistry are, we also know that chemistry must be used responsibly. Promoting the safe use of the essential products of chemistry is a shared responsibility of manufacturers, the government and those who use or sell chemical products. Manufacturers and government must work together to:
- Develop, implement and comply with sound regulations so chemicals are safe for intended use.
- Enhance scientific understanding of chemical safety.
- Produce publicly accessible safety information.
In addition to helping improve the performance and effectiveness of federal programs, ACC supports initiatives that compliments these policies. Working with its member companies, ACC developed the Responsible Care® Product Safety Code to drive continuous improvement in chemical product safety. The Product Safety Code is our industry’s public commitment to our role in the safe management of chemicals and articulates our pledge to make safety a core value in how our products are made, sold, delivered, used and disposed of.
Sound Chemical Regulations
Governments worldwide establish chemical safety guidelines and regulations, and the United Nations and other international organizations work to harmonize these to promote safe use of chemical products globally. ACC supports regulations that are based on a thorough evaluation of several factors, such as how a chemical is actually used, its potential adverse effects, its exposure to the environment and humans (including children and other sensitive groups) and the most cost effective ways to manage potential risks.
In the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary regulator of the safety of chemical products in commerce under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a law that needs to be updated to keep pace with scientific advancements.
Scientific Understanding of Chemical Safety
Scientific understanding of chemicals and technology continue to evolve. New data from relevant and reliable studies should be considered in chemical safety assessments, but more research is needed to investigate new theories and develop advanced technologies to improve the way we evaluate the safety of chemicals.
To help inform public policies and government research practices, ACC sponsors two primary scientific initiatives to enhance understanding of chemical safety: the Long-Range Research Initiative (LRI), which promotes innovation in the methods and technologies used for assessing chemical safety, and the Center for Advancing Risk Assessment Science and Policy (ARASP), that focuses on advancing knowledge about how chemicals interact with the body and the relationship between chemical exposure and safety.
Accessible Safety Information
Until recently, most information about the safety and risks of chemicals has not been readily available to the public. Two initiatives have helped change that.
In cooperation with EPA and the Environmental Defense Fund, chemical makers in 1998 launched the High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program to create a public source of health and environmental information on the most widely used chemical products. The voluntary program expanded globally in 1998 and was updated in 2005 to include additional chemical products and safety information. Chemical makers worldwide participate in the Global Product Strategy (GPS) that publishes plain language safety summaries of chemical products and strengthens product stewardship.
Since scientific understanding is always evolving, a regulatory system that can adapt to advances in science and technology will help promote the safe use of the essential, innovative products made possible by chemistry, as well as maintain American competitiveness to keep jobs here at home.