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."