Monday, December 20, 2010

US and Europe Agree to Share Chemical Data

Last week the USEPA, which has responsibility for managing chemicals in the US, and ECHA, which does the same in the European Union, signed a statement of intent (SOI) to share data, cooperate with each other on chemical reviews, and even exchange staff (or perhaps in this age of budget cuts, just share video-conference call links).  The SOI acknowledges all the work that ECHA and industry have done in this past few years developing a system to submit and review health and safety data under the REACH program.

According to the SOI, the scope of the planned cooperation could include:

- scientific collaboration and information exchange, in particular with regard to the registration (i.e., inventory) as well as hazard and risk assessment of chemical substances;
- exchange of operational experience as well as experience in strengthening regulatory capacities, for instance through training programmes;
- communication activities;
- active disseminaton of public information and publications related to each other’s activities;
- information exchange on matters of common interest, including emerging risks from chemical substances or guidance development; and
- sharing information and experience on risk identification, risk assessment and risk management tools and other similar products and related expertise.

Suggestions that such a SOI have been offered by both EPA and personal for the last month or two, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.  With TSCA reform in a holding pattern in the US (pending the new leadership in the House), and REACH just passing its first major data submission milestone, both groups seek to maximize the value of the data they are collecting and introduce some much needed efficiency in the chemical review process.  This is especially important now that chemicals are manufactured and traded worldwide.  Larger multinational companies and their affiliates should benefit from the likely data sharing between jurisdictions, but smaller and medium sized companies will also benefit as the costs of compliance get reduced by the economies of scale (e.g., if an assessment in Europe is accepted largely as is for the US, that would certainly save the cost of having to do essentially the same thing twice).

The SOI can be downloaded as a PDF from the EPA web site.

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