Friday, November 12, 2010

ChemCon Americas Conference Debates REACH, TSCA Reform, GHS

This past week has been the ChemCon Americas conference in Philadelphia, where mostly industry representatives, regulatory experts, and scientists get together to discuss important issues affecting the chemical industry.  And this week was no exception.  Hot topics included the scramble to make the November 30th REACH deadline, the confusion over how various countries are implementing (or not implementing) GHS, and the uncertainty over what may or may not happen with TSCA reform in the United States.

Representatives from EPA continued to make the case that the 34-year old Toxic Substances Control Act just does not give them the authority to efficiently review tens of thousands of existing chemicals grandfathered onto the TSCA Inventory (for later review). With the chairmanships of the House set to switch from the Democratic Waxman and Rush to "Republicans to be named later," there still seems to be the belief that some form of TSCA reform will happen in the next Congress.  Meanwhile, a lawyer representing industry interests reminded attendees that the individual states are pressing forward with their own versions of reform, perhaps presenting industry with an even more complicated patchwork of regulations to monitor.

REACH also received attention.  A representative from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) encouraged companies to keep on pushing to meet the fast approaching deadline.  Tens of thousands of registrations have been received and many more are expected in the mad rush during the next two weeks.  Oh, and then there is the CLP - Europe's version of the Globally Harmonized System for classification and labeling, for which companies must notify all of their chemicals by January 3rd (even those not scheduled for REACH registration until 2013 or 2018).  And let's not forget Turkey. And China and Japan. And New Zealand and Australia.  And cosmetics?

No wonder everyone looks a little knackered.

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