Tuesday, February 9, 2010
US Takes Years to Reform Chemicals Law, China Does It in 8 Months
The original Kid Safe Chemical Act was introduced into Congress in the summer of 2005, where it sat unnoticed until it died of lack of interest. Ditto when it was reintroduced in 2008. Here in early 2010 we are still awaiting its reintroduction (again) and while there are expectations that it will actually be taken up this time, the process will be a long one. Meanwhile, China issued a draft proposal for the "Measures on Environmental Management of New Chemical Substances on May 21, 2009. It was adopted on January 19, 2010 and will enter into force on October 15, 2010.
The new Chinese chemical law includes the following key requirements:
1) Relies on a risk management concept, i.e., both hazard and exposure
2) New chemicals are classified into either "general new chemicals" or "hazardous new chemicals"
3) Data requirements are based on production volume, so that the more of a chemical you make the greater the amound of data that is required to support it (this is much like REACH in Europe)
4) In contrast, for chemicals with very small production volumes (less than 1 ton per year), the data requirements are much less.
5) Only a registered Chinese entity can register new chemicals (again, like REACH)
6) What is referred to as "serial, joint, and duplicate" notifications are acceptable, meaning some collaboration among companies to provide data is available (though it's uncertain how companies creating a new chemical can join forces with others)
7) Annual reporting and record-keeping is necessary for all producers and importers of new chemicals
It's important to keep in mind that this law only covers "new" chemicals, that is, chemicals that are not on China's Inventory of existing chemicals (like the TSCA Inventory in the US). China has other mechanisms for dealing with existing chemicals.
So how does this relate to the US TSCA reform discussions? It shows yet another country that is implementing a "no data, no market" concept that is the hallmark of the REACH regulation in Europe. As I've been saying here, expect to see some sort of base set of data required when companies apply for approval of new chemicals (which, contrary to logic, is not currently the case in the US). TSCA Reform may not be REACH, but it will shift the burden to industry to "prove" it's chemicals are safe.