December 17, 2010 5:17 PM Eastern Time
Arguably the two top environmental acronymn heavyweights, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have just announced a partnership that will promote enhanced technical cooperation on chemical management activities. This is another sign that America's revamping of chemical regulation known as TSCA reform will likely become more REACH-like and more solidified. The question is, how soon?
ECHA is the agency that implements the European Union’s chemical management program known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals). The REACH regulation has taken the world by storm. EPA said in a release that the newly-announced partnership is part of EPA's commitment to "improve chemical safety."
One of the major anticipated areas of collaboration, say the agencies, will be on the exchange of data and information.
For example, the statement of intent will promote the exchange of non-confidential information on hazards, uses, and substance identification between ECHA and EPA, including data collected under REACH and by REACH software. The two agencies will also share criteria for managing confidential business information with the goal to increase the availability of chemical information to the public.
Overall this joining of efforts and sharing of best practices is probably a good idea. We just hope for more efficiency rather than another dimension of bureaucracy. For more on this, see details at the EPA page.