Tuesday, November 29, 2011

EPA Makes Public Hundreds of Formerly Confidential Chemicals Studies

On November 28, 2011 the USEPA released an updating showing "EPA's progress reviewing case files submitted to the Agency under TSCA with chemical identities claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI)."  They provided a series of charts "intended to help those tracking EPA's progress in reviewing CBI and declassifying it, where appropriate."  The move is "part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s commitment to enhance the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s chemicals management program and increase transparency."

According to EPA, "Releasing the data will expand the public’s access to critical health and safety information on chemicals that are manufactured and processed in the U.S."

In a statement by outgoing Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Steve Owens noted that “EPA is increasing the availability of critical health and safety studies on chemicals that children and families are exposed to every day. We are making important progress in making this information public and giving the American public easy access to it...“over the next year, we expect to review several thousand additional studies on industrial chemicals and make many of these more accessible to the public.”

Highlights from the latest release:
  • Since the beginning of EPA's efforts to increase transparency two years ago, a total of 577 chemicals have been declassified, resulting in a shift from the CBI portion of the TSCA Inventory to the public portion.
  • CBI claims for chemical identity are being reviewed, and challenged where appropriate, in 100 percent of incoming TSCA filings that may contain health and safety studies.
  • As of October 2011, EPA exceeded its FY 2011 goal, set forth in the FY 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan, to review, and challenge where appropriate, more than 1,125 existing TSCA cases with CBI claims for chemical identity, potentially containing health and safety studies.
EPA noted that:
Consistent with the guidance, the agency will request that the submitter voluntarily relinquish the CBI claims and make the newly available studies available to the public. EPA also challenged the chemical industry to make available information that was previously classified as CBI. To date, more than 35 companies have agreed to review previously submitted filings containing health and safety studies and determine if any CBI claims may no longer be necessary. 

Finally, EPA notes that "the newly available information can be found under a new “declassified tab” using the Chemical Data Access Tool, launched in December 2010 to assist the public in retrieving chemical health and safety information submitted to EPA under TSCA."

More information can be found on EPA's web site.

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