Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EPA holds hearing on HPV chemical test rule

As noted a few weeks ago, EPA is working on a new proposed test rule for High Production Volume "orphan" chemicals.  The rules are authorized under Section 4 of TSCA and are designed to obtain test data that the Agency needs to better assess risk.  That was the third such rule proposed.  Well, last week EPA held a public hearing to get input on the proposed rule.  And not everyone thought testing was needed.

The sometimes odd pairing of industry and animal welfare groups again were on the same side, with industry objecting to the need to conduct some of the testing and animal welfare groups like PETA objecting because much of the testing uses animal models like rats.  Others were supportive of testing, noting that without actual data it is difficult for EPA to make sound scientific assessments of risk.

Since this is a proposed rule it will need to be finalized and published again in the Federal Register before manufacturers will be required to provide data.  EPA Chemical Control Division chief Jim Willis suggested that the final rule for this third group of HPV chemicals could be issued within 6 to 9 nine months, though he admitted that timeline was optimistic.  It seems even more optimistic when one considers that the 2nd proposed HPV orphans rule was issued in July of 2008 and to date that one still has not been finalized over two years later (though Willis did suggest it may be made final within the next month or so).

Meanwhile, EPA is working on a 4th proposed rule, though it seems it is still in the very early stages of development.  Look for that one sometime in 2011.

So while Congress sits on the proposed TSCA reform bills, EPA is trying to work within the current TSCA system.  Given that all of these test rules are for chemicals that are HPV "orphans," that is, chemicals produced in high volumes yet for which none of the manufacturers stepped forward voluntarily to provide data under the HPV Challenge program, it seems that TSCA has only limited ability to address chemical concerns in a timely fashion. 

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