Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Industry Reaction to the Senate Hearing on TSCA Chemical Reform

During the Senate hearing last week on reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Senator Vitter noted that while they were not present for in-person testimony, some industry groups had provided written testimony for inclusion in the record. Because of all the snow in Washington DC (up to 3 feet and counting, including more today) the federal government has been closed since last Friday afternoon and the testimony has yet to be posted on the EPW web site. So I thought I would highlight some of the reaction from industry as posted on their web sites.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has been in the forefront of negotiations on chemical issues, and was the lead industry organization to agree to the voluntary High Production Volume Challenge with EPA in 1998. They represent 140 member chemical companies, including all of the largest manufacturers of chemicals in the US. In their letter they agreed that biomonitoring data "have an important role along with other hazard, use and exposure factors" in prioritization of chemicals. But they also remind the panel of a statement from the 2006 National Academy of Sciences report "[O]ur technical ability to generate new biomonitoring data has essentially exceeded our ability to interpret them." In other words, we now can measure chemicals at very low concentrations in the body, but that doesn't necessarily mean there will be any effects.

The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) also agrees that TSCA needs to be modernized. SOCMA represents over 300 member companies, but unlike ACC most of their members are small and medium-sized businesses that don't have as many resources as the big companies. SOCMA "believes that the degree of public concern about the health risks of chemical exposures is not justified by what we currently know." They too note that evidence of exposure (from biomonitoring studies) is not the same as evidence of effect.

Another trade association, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) also submitted written testimony according to Senator Vitter but apparently haven't posted it on their web site yet. NPRA represents "nearly 500 members, including virtually all U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers." It's really not surprising that it hasn't been posted yet given all these associations are located in Washington DC, or as it has come to be known this past week, Arctic South.

The saga continues tomorrow.

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