Friday, April 9, 2010
Former EPA Chemicals Chief Gives Recommendations for a "Workable and Effective" Chemical Regulatory System
A few days ago I mentioned that advocacy groups highlighted their differences with industry on TSCA reform at a recent chemical industry trade show called GlobalChem. Also presenting at that conference was the former head of the EPA Office responsible for chemicals management, Charlie Auer, now a private consultant. He offered the following "approach elements" on how to move towards a "workable and effective chemical regulatory system in the US."
1) Improved hazard and exposure/use database: a requirement for regular periodic reporting from companies throughout the chemicals value chain to ensure that EPA's understanding of uses/exposures remains current. Auer noted that this should include an Inventory Reset component. He also suggested that there is a need for tiered datasets, i.e., basic data requirements triggered at each level, the ability for EPA to modify basic requirements based on hazard screening results, and a role for SARs, read-across, and other non-animal testing methods.
2) Staged process for risk assessment and risk management: Auer noted that there must be an "open, measured and timely" process in which there must be risk management following risk assessment, a role for periodic reassessment based on new information, consideration of the life-cycle of chemicals, and decisions based on the best available scientific data.
3) Broad risk management authority providing more flexible and effective tools: To include "rule plus order authority" and the ability to require development of enforceable pollution prevention and green chemistry plans.
4) Control actions: To be based on scientifically sound risk assessments, identification of mitigation or prevention measures to ensure safety, and "a determination by EPA that it is reasonable to require such measures."
Auer also suggested that there needed to be better balancing of confidential business information protection and disclosure, legislation that encourages innovation, and greater responsibility by industry throughout the chemicals value chain. He noted that EPA should be directed to regularly update test guidelines to meet current standards and work to achieve by 2020 the NAS "Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century." EPA should also be able to recognize or apply the work done by other governments.
And he, like just about everyone else, noted that EPA must be given adequate resources to do its job. For Auer, that includes adequate funding but also the institution of some sort of chemical registration fee system.