Chemical Identities Unveiled | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: June 8, 2011

Chemical Identities Unveiled

EPA: Agency reveals names of 150 substances examined in health and safety studies
Department: Government & Policy, Business
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: EPA, Toxic Substances Control Act

For the second time in three months, EPA today lifted industry-imposed confidentially claims shielding the identities of chemicals in health and safety studies.

The agency made public the identities of 150 compounds in 104 health and safety studies that were submitted by chemical manufacturers under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Until now, the names of those chemicals were redacted from publicly available versions of the studies because the companies that submitted them claimed the identities of the substances to be trade secrets.

“A health and safety study with the chemical name kept secret is completely useless to the public,” says Stephen A. Owens, EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention.

According to EPA, the 150 chemicals are used in dispersants and consumer products including air fresheners, non-stick and stain resistant materials, and fire resistant materials. Others are nonylphenol compounds, which are used in detergents, and perfluorinated substances.

The move is part of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s initiative to make more information on commercial chemicals available to the public. Last year, the agency challenged chemical makers to declassify voluntarily any unwarranted confidentiality claims about their products.

Industry and EPA agree that in some cases, companies have overused these assertions to protect chemical identity in submissions to the agency (C&EN, April 4, p. 24). But the chemical industry stresses that some protection is needed to protect trade secrets.

“We support EPA’s mission to promote public understanding of the potential risks posed by chemicals in commerce, while protecting the critical information needed by businesses to innovate and succeed in a competitive international marketplace,” says Scott Jensen, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry association. “It's important that EPA continue to recognize legitimate claims to safeguard intellectual property from competitors.”

Some of the confidentiality claims made for the 150 chemicals made public by EPA were lifted by chemical makers, the agency said. However, an EPA spokesman was unable to say how many of the new disclosures were the result of voluntary industry actions.

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