Current Chemical Safety Regulations

ACC Commends Senators Inhofe and Boxer for TSCA Agreement

The agreement that Senator Inhofe reached with Senator Boxer builds upon the work of Senators Vitter, Udall, Markey and others and paves the way for final passage.

ACC supports efforts to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to reflect advances in scientific understanding and the applications of chemistry. But even as Congress considers changes to TSCA, a robust system of laws and regulations are in place today to protect public health and the environment. Some of these regulations can be improved to enhance transparency and public confidence.

Policy Background

Congress passed TSCA in 1976 to create a system to oversee the production and use of chemicals in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should use its existing authority to make improvements to the following areas of the current regulatory system:

Chemical Action Plans – EPA has authority to require chemical management measures based on potential risks posed by certain uses of chemicals. However, EPA has proposed these Chemical Action Plans without conducting independent safety assessments, thus reducing transparency and scientific rigor.

Confidential Business Information (CBI) – TSCA is designed to balance the need for public safety information on chemicals with the need for companies to protect confidential business information (CBI) and intellectual property. EPA is assertively questioning many CBI claims, particularly those requesting protection of chemical identity.

Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule – Use and exposure information gathered through the chemical data reporting (CDR) rule helps EPA screen and prioritize chemicals for additional review. ACC supports the changes to the inventory update rule (IUR) under the newly named chemical data reporting rule, which reflects improvements that ACC suggested to the agency to ensure that companies are given the time needed to provide high quality information. The new CDR will help ensure EPA receives accurate information, which is essential to meet EPA’s regulatory and policy needs and to improve the American public’s understanding of chemicals in commerce.

Chemical Prioritization – One of the important first steps in evaluating the safety of chemicals is establishing a prioritization process that determines which chemicals in commerce warrant additional review. ACC has developed a comprehensive prioritization system that EPA could implement under its existing authority to ensure that the agency does not waste time and resources gathering information on chemicals that are already well-understood or evaluating chemicals that do not pose a significant risk to public health or the environment.

Risk Assessment – Under TSCA, EPA assesses chemicals using conservative assumptions about the possible hazards a chemical may pose, the amount and means by which exposure to a chemical occurs and appropriate safety factors to protect health and the environment. Science and technology is continually evolving, and it’s important that risk assessment practices consider new developments.

ACC’s Policy Position

To enable continued innovation in the business of chemistry, EPA must revise key chemical safety regulations to reduce regulatory burdens while promoting the safe use of chemical products.

  • EPA’s Chemical Action Plans must be reserved only for chemicals for which EPA has made safety determinations and concluded that risk management measures are warranted. Chemical Action Plans must be transparent and based on clear scientific criteria, as well as utilize all relevant safety information.

  • To ensure continued technological innovation in the business of chemistry, EPA must protect CBI while making safety information publicly available. While EPA should require upfront justification for CBI claims, the agency must not impede unduly or create unnecessary economic barriers to technological innovation.

  • EPA must establish a transparent system for prioritizing chemicals for review that considers well-established scientific criteria in conjunction with information collected under the CDR rule about the volume of a chemical in commerce, how a chemical is used, including whether it is used in children’s products and what is already known about the chemical through previous studies. When used with hazard information, the data submitted by industry through the CDR will help EPA screen and prioritize chemicals for further review.

  • Modernization must derive from core principles including: make sure chemicals are safe for intended use; make sure safety decisions are cost-effective and expeditious; prioritize chemicals to determine which substances warrant additional review and assessment; utilize all reliable information; and make safety information public while protecting intellectual property.

  • EPA should adopt new, but proven, technologies and methods for assessing risks that reflect current knowledge of the specific chemicals in question and real world conditions, rather than relying on potentially outdated default assumptions.

EPA can improve implementation of TSCA in its current form, in advance of anticipated legislative changes, which would increase confidence in the chemical management system and enable the business of chemistry to continue innovating and creating jobs.

» Learn more about TSCA Modernization.