Chemical Groups Support Modernization of Chemical Management

November 19, 2010

November 19, 2010

The American Chemistry Council or ACC and its members have announced they support efforts by the U.S. Congress to modernize chemical management.   Chemicals affect all consumers and all industries. The ACC in particular works closely with automotive, building & construction, electronics and semi-conductor, and packaging through its plastics arm.

Current U.S. chemical management law, known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is more than 30 years old.  The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 provides EPA with authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures.  Certain substances are generally excluded from TSCA, including, among others, food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides.  TSCA addresses the production, importation, use, and disposal of specific chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon and lead-based paint. 

In July 2010, TSCA reform was introduced by House Representatives Waxman and Rush.  A modern system, says the ACC, should place protecting the public health as its highest priority, and should include strict government oversight.  The agency also says that a modern chemical management system should "also preserve America’s role as the world’s leading innovator and employer in the creation of safe and environmentally sound technologies and products of the business of chemistry."
ACC says TSCA needs update
ACC puts forth these principles for modernizing TSCA:

  1. Chemicals should be safe for their intended use.
  2. EPA should systematically prioritize chemicals for purposes of safe use determinations.
  3. EPA should act expeditiously and efficiently in making safe use determinations.
  4. Companies that manufacture, import, process, distribute, or use chemicals should be required to provide EPA with relevant information to the extent necessary for EPA to make safe use determinations.
  5. Potential risks faced by children should be an important factor in safe use determinations.
  6. EPA should be empowered to impose a range of controls to ensure that chemicals are safe for their intended use.
  7. Companies and EPA should work together to enhance public access to chemical health and safety information.
  8. EPA should rely on scientifically valid data and information, regardless of its source, including data and information reflecting modern advances in science and technology.
  9. EPA should have the staff, resources, and regulatory tools it needs to ensure the safety of chemicals.
  10. A modernized TSCA should encourage technological innovation and a globally competitive industry in the United States.

There are a number of details available on the ACC web site, and the TSCA documentation there is continually updated.  We're running it here because it's worth noting.  See more here.  Bear in mind that the ACC's primary mission is to "represent the companies that make the products that make modern life possible....."   This is a business bureau, not a consumer alarm mechanism, just so we're clear.  (Neither is better, they simply have different paradigm filters.) 

To wit:  often the cost of tracking chemicals and managing hazardous materials is two to 10 times more than the price of the chemicals, according to an article in Information Week.  This cost ratio can be especially true in a workplace such as a biotech company, a semiconductor manufacturer or other business that depend heavily on chemicals in their operations.  For an organization with 2,000 chemicals, those documents can cost about $100,000 to create and manage on average.  Modernization would include, we hope, cost levies, as well as workflow and documentation parameters for improved efficiency.