Wednesday, August 25, 2010

26 Advocacy Groups File Comments in Support of EPA Policy to Limit Confidential Business Information

Back in May 2010 the USEPA issued a "Notice of General Practice of Reviewing Confidentiality Claims for Chemical Identities in Health and Safety Studies Submitted Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)."  Today twenty-six health, labor and environmental advocacy organizations filed a 19-page set of detailed comments "voicing resounding support for a long-overdue change" in EPA's policies.

In short, EPA will no longer accept routine claims of confidentiality for chemical names when companies submit what are called TSCA 8(e) notices, i.e., reports of significant adverse effects.  Companies are required to report immediately if they become aware of such significant effects, usually as a result of toxicity testing that indicates unexpected levels of toxicity.  These health and safety studies themselves cannot be held confidential, but the advocacy organizations argue that by withholding the name of the chemical tested the health and safety result is meaningless.  After all, the public would have no idea on what chemical the study was conducted. [EPA, of course, does know what chemical is being reported, but the portion made public may be significantly redacted to protect competitive advantage for the company, which is important for example if the chemical is being newly developed for the marketplace or a new use in the marketplace.

One of the primary advocacy organizations preparing the comments is the Environmental Defense Fund, which has played a leading role in the advocacy community when it comes to chemical safety issues.  More information on the EPA action and the 26 advocacy groups can be found on EDF's web site.

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