Lautenberg Re-introduces Safe Chemicals Act

Lautenberg re-introduces Safe Chemicals Act:

On April 14, 2011, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which is intended to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under this legislation chemical companies would be required to demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate safety based on the best available science.

Lautenberg previously introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 and in response to feedback from chemical industry leaders, public officials, scientists, doctors, academics, and non-profit organizations, Lautenberg states that he has made several changes to improve the bill. For example, according to Lautenberg, the updated bill establishes risk-based prioritization categories so that EPA can focus its resources on the highest-risk chemicals. It also requires chemical companies to submit initially basic hazard and exposure data to determine quickly the risk and assess the need for further testing or restrictions. The summary of the bill states that it would:

  • · Ensure EPA has information on the health risks of all chemicals. The bill requires chemical companies to develop and submit a minimum data set for each chemical they produce. EPA would have full authority to require any data beyond the minimum data set needed to determine safety of a chemical.
  • · Require EPA to prioritize chemicals based on risk. The Administrator must conduct an initial evaluation of the safety of all chemicals and place those that meet certain criteria into one of three classes: immediate risk management, safety standard determination, and no immediate action. Not all chemicals will meet the criteria to be placed in a class.
  • · Expedite action to reduce risk from chemicals of highest concern. Persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals for which there is the potential for widespread exposure will be placed into the category of chemicals requiring immediate risk management. EPA must then impose conditions that will immediately reduce exposure.
  • · Further evaluate chemicals that could pose unacceptable risk. Chemicals that present uncertainty about their ability to meet the safety standard will be placed into the category of chemicals requiring a safety standard determination. EPA would then require additional testing and risk assessment. If the chemical cannot meet the safety standard, it cannot remain on the market. The Administrator, or industry on its own accord, may impose conditions on uses of a chemical that will reduce risk and allow the chemical to meet the safety standard.
  • · Provide broad public, market, and worker access to reliable chemical information. EPA must establish a public database that will house both chemical information submitted to EPA and decisions made by EPA about chemicals. The bill narrows the conditions under which data submitted by industry can be claimed to be confidential business information (CBI). It provides access to CBI by workers and local and state governments so long as they protect the information’s confidentiality. EPA must impose requirements to ensure that information developed and submitted, and advice received from advisory committees convened by EPA, is reliable.

  • Promote innovation, green chemistry, and safer alternatives to chemicals of concern. The bill requires EPA to establish a program to develop market and other incentives for safer alternatives, and a research grant program targeted at priority hazardous chemicals for which alternatives do not presently exist. A network of research centers would be established to conduct green chemistry research and alternatives analyses, and to provide training, educational materials, and technical assistance to educational institutions, small businesses, government, and non-governmental organizations. The bill also allows some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited process for reviewing safety.

Lautenberg also posted a video on his Facebook and Twitter pages to promote his bill. The video is available online.

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