Domenica, 04 Dicembre, 2016

EPA begins process to regulate toxic, widely used chemicals

Environmental Protection Agency building sign Washington DC Environmental Protection Agency building sign Washington DC   Thinkstock
Carmela Zoppi | 02 Dicembre, 2016, 12:36

On November 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the initial ten chemical substances on which risk evaluations will be conducted under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6 (b)(2)(A). The Lautenberg act amended the TSCA to give the EPA new regulatory powers with broad authority to evaluate the risk of allowing these chemicals to continue to be used in consumer goods and services.

Interestingly, several of the chemicals are the subject of Section 6 rules that are now undergoing review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Within the next three years, the agency will study whether the 10 high-priority chemicals present an "unreasonable risk to humans and the environment", the EPA said. It released a list of the first 10 chemicals that it plans to review, and the list includes such common chemicals as asbestos and trichloroethylene, which have for decades been known to cause cancer, according to The Associated Press. "Congress should act swiftly to update the laws regulating these chemicals to ensure that these everyday products are safe". The EPA's announcement today of the first 10 chemicals it will review complies with the new law's requirement that the EPA release such a list by December 19, 2016. In the 1980s, the agency had imposed a complete ban on the unsafe material, only to have that ban lifted when industry groups took the agency to court, arguing that the EPA did not have the authority to implement such a ban.

Largely composed of industrial solvents, flame retardants, and workplace cleaners, the announcement of the new list kicks off a long-awaited overhaul of how the environmental agency regulates risky chemicals. The EPA's inability to regulate one of the most notoriously lethal chemicals in existence highlighted the need to empower the agency with stronger chemical safety laws that would prioritize public health over profits.

The new law includes some key points that will prevent chemical industry lobbyists from upending this important work - namely, requiring EPA to review existing and new chemicals based on a health-based standard, and not the cost of any restriction or ban.

We applaud the EPA for releasing this list ahead of schedule and for taking other steps to implement the nation's new chemical safety law. It is welcome news that the EPA has listed 10 potentially unsafe chemicals that warrant greater scrutiny for the protection of public health.

There is still some way to go before we can expect to see a ban on asbestos. "Asbestos is a major piece of unfinished business for the agency". She co-founded ADAO in 2004 after her husband, Alan, was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

"I look forward to a future where one day, asbestos exposure will be a thing of the past".

Altre Notizie