Waxman Requests Chemicals Data | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: April 1, 2011

Waxman Requests Chemicals Data

Chemicals Policy: Influential Democrat asks CEOs for information pertinent to reform U.S. chemicals policy
Department: Government & Policy, Science & Technology
Keywords: Chemicals Policy, TSCA, PBT

Top executives at 15 chemical companies were asked by a key member of Congress on April 1, whether their firms produce or process persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) substances.

The request came  in a letter sent by Rep. Henry A Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on a congressional committee that is trying to reform U.S. chemicals policy.

"We need better information from manufacturers to understand what is already being done to protect the American people, and what more may need to be done through modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act," Waxman said in a statement.

That federal law, known by its acronym TSCA, governs the manufacture of chemicals. However, that statute provides the Environmental Protection Agency with limited ability to regulate chemicals that are on the U.S. market, especially those commercialized before TSCA was signed into law in 1976.

Waxman asked the CEOs to respond with the name of the PBT substances that their companies now make or process, the volume manufactured and sold annually between 2005 and 2010, the consumer products in which the chemicals were used, and any labels or warnings about the materials' hazards, use, handling, or disposal. He set a deadline of April 22 for the companies to respond.

Environmental and health groups and many chemical producers agree that the law needs updated. Waxman co-sponsored legislation in the last Congress to revise TSCA.

PBT chemicals are of particular concern, Waxman said, because they are highly resistant to degradation, can spread worldwide, build up in the food chain and in the human body, and cause adverse health effects.

PBT substances are major targets of newly revised chemical regulatory systems in Canada and the European Union.

Waxman's letter went out to the CEOs of 3M, Ashland, BASF, Bayer MaterialScience, Byk USA, Chevron, Cytec, Clariant, Daikin America, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Henkel, Huntsman Advanced Materials, Lubrizol, and PPG. Companies contacted by C&EN were not able to respond at deadline, likely because many had not yet received the letter.

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