Monday, April 4, 2011

Democratic Congressman Waxman Requests PBT Data from Chemical Companies

Democratic Representative Henry A. Waxman (CA), who is Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is asking chemical manufacturers to provide information on "the production of chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT’s)."  Waxman, along with Illionios Congressman Bobby Rush, introduced the House's version of the TSCA reform legislation in 2010.  Since those bills died at the end of the last Congress with no action, and little prospect of the Republican-led House introducing bill this year, Waxman seems intent on keeping the pressure on the chemical industry to reveal data.  According to the press release on the minority site for the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Waxman states:

“These chemicals are of particular concern.  We need better information from manufacturers to understand what is already being done to protect the American people, and what more may need to be done through modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act.”

PBTs are "highly resistant to degradation in the environment," "build up in the food chain and in the human body," and "cause adverse health effects in exposed individuals."  These persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic properties have been used by the EPA and other jurisdictions (including Canada and the EU) to prioritize chemicals of greatest concern for closer evaluation.

Waxman sent letters to the CEOs of 15 major chemical manufacturers, including 3M, DuPont, BASF, Huntsman, Chevron, PPG, and others requesting information on what they are doing to determine if a chemical they plan to start producing is a PBT, and if so, whether they would continue to develop the chemical for production.  He also asked what companies are doing to determine if existing chemicals they already produce are PBT, and if so, whether they plan to continue production.  In both cases, if the decision is to continue to place the PBT chemical on the market, what steps are they taking to adequately address "the risks posed by the chemical."

Rep. Waxman indicated that he "would appreciate a response to these questions no later than April 22, 2011."

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