Monday, October 4, 2010
Is TSCA chemical reform good for business?
If you ask the major NGOs, the answer is yes, of course it is good for business. To begin with, TSCA reform would help protect both workers and the public from exposure to hazardous chemicals. Safety is hard to prove as of now because for most chemicals there are very little actual health and safety data. Reform would provide the data needed to more accurately assess risk. Ensuring that all chemicals have data will also allow the public to gain more confidence that the system is protecting them. While most people don't think about it all that often, any time there is a "chemical scare," either real or imagined, the public loses confidence in both the chemical industry and the regulatory apparatus. And finally, TSCA reform would stimulate innovation as it would encourage the development of newer, greener chemicals.
The chemical industry is split on this point. The manufacturing trade associations, especially those representing smaller and more specialty manufacturers, believe that increased regulatory burden is just too much for them to handle and that this will effect jobs. Larger manufacturers tend to advocate both for and against positions, depending on the audience. Greater requirements to provide data will obviously require more resources put toward testing and/or development of alternative data. On the other hand, many manufacturers, especially those multinationals who do business in Europe, would already have had to develop those data to comply with the EU REACH program. So they may find it a competitive advantage to "raise the bar" on US data requirements. In any case they most likely have collaborations with more innovative firms to develop the next wave of more sustainable chemistries.
Behind all of this, of course, is the need for ensuring public health and safety and protection of the environment.