Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So what happens to the TSCA Inventory under the new Safe Chemicals Act?

As most readers probably know, the current Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has what is called an Inventory of existing chemicals. The list was created soon after TSCA was enacted to "grandfather" the chemicals already in commerce at that time (the late 1970s) onto a list. The idea was that it was simply impossible to assess them all at once for health and safety and that they could be assessed systematically over time. Meanwhile, new chemicals added to the list would undergo a new Premanufacture notice (PMN) procedure to assess their safety. In reality very few of the original 63,000 grandfathered chemicals have received substantive health and safety evaluations. And as the new Safe Chemicals Act anticipates that there will be a "minimum data set" needed for both existing and new chemicals, the fact that the old Inventory was largely made up of chemicals no longer in commerce anyway became evident.

The Lautenberg Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 takes a step towards eliminating the old Inventory and creating a new one. Section 9 of the new act (which amends Section 8 of TSCA, I know, it gets hard to follow), states that "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010, each manufacturer or processor of a chemical substance distributed in commerce shall submit to the Administrator the declaration described in paragraph (2) or (3), accompanied by the certification described in subsection (i)." The declaration noted in paragraph (2) includes information on the chemical identity and characteristics, locations of manufacturing and processing facilities, a list of health and safety studies available, and any other relevant information regarding the physicochemical and toxicological properties and annual production volumes. In essence, the section requires companies to provide information similar to a PMN for new chemicals. The companies would also be required to declare to EPA when they have ceased production.

All of this effectively sets up a new dynamic Inventory where chemicals can be removed as well as added. In the old Inventory once a chemical was on the list it stayed there and anyone could decide to start making it again in the future without any further review. This new system would require there to be the minimum data set produced for any new chemical, which would be defined as any chemical not currently on the list. Companies would be required to update their information every three years, so if no one reports a chemical as being produced after than time presumably it would be removed from the Inventory.

And since EPA would establish a rolling list of 300 chemicals for priority review, presumably from only those chemicals that make the new Inventory list, eventually all chemicals would get reviewed for health and safety. If the new Inventory list of only those chemicals that are currently in commerce is substantially less than the approximately 85,000 chemicals on the current Inventory (some industry figures suggest less than 10,000 are currently in commerce in the US), then the job becomes much more manageable.

I'll take a look at other aspects in upcoming days, including what is meant by the "minimum data set."


Brad said...

"In reality very few of the original 63,000 grandfathered chemicals have received substantive health and safety evaluations."

I may be misunderstanding but this seems like a scarey comment. Is this a good idea grandfathering in chemicals & not subjecting them to the testing of today's standards. Perhaps I am off track with this but I feel some of these chemicals from yesteryear can possibly pose health risks.

The Dake Page said...

The original TSCA Inventory was necessitated by the reality that there would be no way to assess 63,000 chemicals instantaneously when the law went into effect. Since they had been in commerce already, presumably without any obvious impacts, they were grandfathered onto the list. The idea was that they would be prioritized and assessed, but in reality nothing really happened unless some issue arose that connected a particular chemical to health and safety problems.

The approximately 2000 or so most highly produced chemicals (the High Production Volume chemicals, HPV) were the subject of a recent 10-year long voluntary program. Mostly that data went onto the web without much else happening to it.

Another consideration is that of the 63,000 it's likely that maybe only 8,000 or so are still in commerce. At this point there isn't any way to really know, which is why some are calling for an "Inventory Reset."

Senator Lautenberg has said that he will reintroduce some form of his Safe Chemicals Act in the coming weeks (spring 2011). But even if he does introduce it the chances of any TSCA reform getting passed in this Congress are pretty small.

Ray Simon said...

I work with pesticides and herbicides frequently in my business.
I agree with Lautenberg's legislation that will place the burden of providing safety data of all commercially available chemicals being produced on the chemical companies. I wear the proper PPE but I would also like the piece of mind that what I am using is at least somewhat safe.

I would think that with all of the technological horsepower that we have today that it wouldn't be that difficult to figure out which of the 8000 chemicals are still out there.

Ryan and Jesse said...

I think that it is good that they are beginning to asses all of these chemicals even if it's only on a small scale like 300 at a time out of the 63K. I also like the new updates of having companies update their records every 3 years. It's a step in the right direction I think.

Just my thoughts.
Jesse Jelley, LearntoBuildaShed.com
Simple, easy to follow Furniture Plans for all your woodworking projects.

stuart said...

This new reporting on commercial activity goes well beyond REACH by including processor reporting (REACH’s downstream users) and collecting potentially unlimited toxicological data and customer location information. The definition of “process” hasn’t been changed – preparation for distribution in commerce, including as part of an article. That makes for a lot of new companies who’ve never messed with TSCA Inventory reporting before.

Webmaster of folding-table.org.uk
Folding Tables

stuart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Dake Page said...

@stuart: Apologies. Your comments went to my spam folder for some reason and I removed the second copy since it repeated the first.

Yes, the Safe Chemicals Act bills included processors. My personal feeling is that it would have been removed because it was unworkable (the bills always always have "negotiaton points" that legislators assume will fall out. Given that the Congress ended without any action on the bills, and that Congress is under split control (with the GOP hopeful of taking control of the Senate in 2012), it seems unlikely that anything like the 2010 bills will ever make it through Congress.

Though Sen. Lautenberg has promised he will introduce a new version within weeks.

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Ryan said...

I would think that with all of the technological horsepower that we have today that it wouldn't be that difficult to figure out which of the 8000 chemicals are still out there.

Ryan Jelley
Webmaster, ElectronicCigaretteTruth.com
Everything you must know before you Purchase Electronic Cigarettes.