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Regs Report: Updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act

Thu, 08/15/2013 - 9:38am
Kimberley Schmitt, Associate Editor

Chem.Info's recurring Regs Report feature presents new and emerging regulations and enables readers to better achieve compliance. In this installment, we explore the Chemical Safety Improvement Act legislation.

For the past 37 years the chemical processing industry has operated under the standards of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). With time comes necessary updates for every industry, and the Chemical Safety Improvement Act legislation opens up the opportunity for improvement to the outdated TSCA.

Changes to the Chemical Safety Improvement Act

Processors may notice a few changes with the current legislation compared to the TSCA. One of the most significant changes is the mandate to review existing chemicals and chemicals on the TSCA inventory.

According to Dan Newton, Senior Manager of Government Relations with the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, the legislation addresses the lack of mandates by requiring a risk based prioritization system to review the chemicals. “Furthermore, the bill will separate the inventory of existing chemicals into ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ lists,” he says. “We are also pleased the new chemicals provision is largely unchanged and that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will have more tools to address existing chemicals that may be a concern.”

Newton believes the bipartisan Senate legislation would be favorable to the chemical processing industry. “As it stands, it would be favorable to the concerns of specialty chemical manufacturers, including small and medium-sized companies,” he says. “The bill addresses the fundamental flaw with the TSCA under the status quo, which is the lack of a mandate to review existing chemicals.”

Another aspect of the legislation that has minor changes is the strengthening of protection of chemical identities that are claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI). “Under the current law, it is unclear whether chemical identity is still protected when it is contained in a health and safety study,” he says. “Significantly, the EPA regulatory actions retrospectively and prospectively preempt state and local chemical regulatory requirements, but states can have a more active role in the development of regulations on chemicals.”

Impact on processors

From consumers to processors, the CSIA will impact everyone; however, manufacturers will experience the greatest impact at their companies. “The bill primarily impacts chemical manufacturers, as it does under the status quo,” Newton says. “Reporting requirements are still limited to manufacturers and processors, although processors would be involved in the inventory reset. Processors may also be more involved in cases where the EPA requires testing.”

Newton notes that chemical processors can expect to be more involved in the regulatory compliance of chemicals that fall under the purview of TSCA. “It is the processors and other downstream companies that have information on use and exposure that is needed to more fully understand the risk equation,” Newton says. “Upstream manufacturers are not always privy to this information, which continues to be problematic.”

According to the legislation, the safety standard reads “No unreasonable risk of harm to human health or the environment will result from exposure to the chemical substance.”

Newton states that low priority chemicals and new chemicals and uses would be determined to either “likely or not likely meet the safety standard.” “A full safety assessment would be required for high priority chemicals or chemicals not likely to meet the safety standard,” he says. “EPA’s analyses will look at the chemical ‘under its intended conditions of use.’ This would include anticipated uses as well.”

The stated safety standard in the legislation may also allow the EPA to interpret it more strictly. “It is possible the EPA could interpret the bill’s safety standard more stringently than under the status quo,” Newton says. “It is too early to say how this would all work in practice. However, processors may have additional obligations to test target substances and can expect to be more involved in safety assessments.”

With bipartisan support, an update to the TSCA through the current legislation of the CSIA is projected to occur within the near future. By maintaining a pulse the legislation chemical processors can keep informed about the direction the industry will be headed.

 

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