Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Beth Bosley Testimony at Congressional Hearing on TSCA Chemical Control
Today I continue with the testimony of the final witness present at the November 17, 2009 Congressional hearings on "Prioritizing Chemicals for Safety Determination." Earlier I gave an overall summary. Beth Bosley is Managing Director of the Boron Specialties company, but spoke on behalf of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA). SOCMA is a trade association that represents the batch and custom chemical industry, which are typically small to medium-sized businesses and thus may not have the more extensive resources of the larger chemical firms.
Bosley noted that SOCMA agrees with the idea that TSCA needs to be modernized, but said that this should be done in a way that "doesn't devastate a strategic American industry that is already facing recession and foreign competition." She offered two essential principles for "a sustainable chemical management law that won't eliminate jobs, economic growth, or products."
1) Priorities must be based on risk: Bosley noted that this means "basing priorities and regulatory criteria on the scientific evaluation of toxicological response and exposure factors." She gave an example of a chemical that may be highly toxic but used only in strictly controlled industrial environments or in small quantities, and as such would actually have a fairly small risk to public health.
2) Proven regulatory mechanisms should be the basis for modernization: Bosley insisted that the modernized TSCA must rely on leveraging regulatory mechanisms that work in the US. She said that applying an approach like the European REACH approach in the US "would devastate small and medium sized companies...and do so unnecessarily since a more practical alternative is available. She suggested that "the Canadian approach to chemicals management has systematically prioritized that nation's inventory and is, therefore, much farther ahead of the EU with respect to evaluating chemicals in commerce."
Bosley also said that SOCMA supports the idea of an "inventory reset," which was part of EPA's Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP), a program that was recently discontinued. She noted that of the "over 80,000 chemicals now listed on the inventory, data suggest that only about 1/3 of these are presently in commerce." Thus, "resetting" the inventory to include only those now in production would significantly reduce the number of chemicals that need to be prioritized and categorized. Bosley suggested that "ChAMP should not have been abandoned, because it will just have to be reinstituted under another name."
Bosley said that we should "embrace TSCA mechanisms that have worked well, like the New Chemicals Program," which through its PreManufacture Notice (PMN) process reviews over 1,000 new chemicals every year. She also encouraged everyone to recognize "the massive amount of data that was generated by EPA's High Production Volume Program and leverage that data in making initial determinations of risk." She felt that "with reasonable amendments," TSCA could provide an easier mechanism to collect data from manufacturers and users related to a) volumes manufactured, processed or used, b) health effects, and c) exposure characteristics.
Finally, she noted that the "safety" standard used by EPA to make determinations should involve:
1) Not overlooking the basic principle of risk (i.e., the evaluation of both hazard and exposure, not just hazard),
2) Not let EPA get burdened with having to determine that each chemical is safe for its intended use (i.e., chemicals need to be prioritized so that only those really of concern should need to be evaluated in depth, and for only those uses that are of concern), and
3) EPA must be adequately funded no matter what approach Congres takes in modernizing TSCA. Bosley noted that "the biggest shortcoming of the TSCA program today is lack of resources, not lack of authority."
Well, that summarizes all of the witnesses who testified at the November 17, 2009 House subcommittee hearing. This is the follow up to a House hearing held back on February 26, 2009, which I discussed earlier.
In addition to the in-person witnesses there was some written testimony provided to the subcommittee. There were also statements published by several other interested stakeholders such at the American Chemistry Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Working Group, and others. I'll be reviewing these in the coming days. I'll also be providing some critical analysis contrasting the different viewpoints and looking at what a final bill might look like.