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Web Date: August 4, 2009

Safe Chemicals

American Chemistry Council lays out plans for modernizing federal chemical law
Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: Chemical Regulation, TSCA, Legislation, EPA

Congress should require EPA to declare certain uses of commercial chemicals as safe, says the American Chemistry Council, a major chemical industry group.

That new mandate for EPA, according to ACC, should come as part of a congressional revision of the federal chemical control law, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Currently, that law only authorizes the agency to examine whether a chemical could harm people or the environment.

This call from ACC is part of how the trade group wants to see TSCA modernized. The industry organization released its principles for reforming the law on Aug. 4.

After years of opposing reform of the statute, ACC earlier this year endorsed revision of TSCA. The trade group has joined a growing chorus of environmental, health, environmental justice, and labor groups calling for an update of TSCA. Congress has shown an interest in the issue this year, and the Obama Administration is expected to offer its position on a revised TSCA in coming weeks (C&EN, March 9, page 24).

A revised TSCA requiring EPA to deem that specific uses of a substance are safe could relieve a major headache of the chemical industry – a growing spate of state and local laws banning individual compounds. For instance, several states have banned certain brominated flame retardants. Backing ACC's position are the Consumer Specialty Products Association and the Soap & Detergent Association.

The industry groups aren't the only ones with ideas for TSCA reform. Also on Aug. 4, a coalition of health and environmental groups called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families released their ideas for a rewrite of that law. Representatives of the coalition and the chemical industry say many of their positions are strikingly similar.

Unlike ACC, however, the coalition is seeking federal support for greener chemistry research as well as a national policy favoring more benign products over those posing potential health hazards.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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