EPA May Regulate Chemicals in Many Products

by | Oct 2, 2009

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chemicalsMarking a significant overhaul of the country’s chemicals policies, which have been in place since 1976, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top official outlined the Obama Administration’s goals to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released the Administration’s principles, called Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation, to “guide Congress in writing a new chemical risk management law that will fix the weaknesses in TSCA.”

The guiding principles will also give the EPA more power to target chemicals of concern and to assess and regulate new and existing chemicals used in commerce.

EPA has identified an initial list of chemicals for possible risk management action and expects to post an initial set of four action plans in December. These include benzidine dyes and pigments (used in textiles, leather, and paper products), bisphenol A (BPA) (used in plastic containers including baby bottles), perfluorinated chemicals (used in a variety of consumer products such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products), phthalates (found in medical devices), short-chain chlorinated paraffins (used as plasticisers in paint, sealants and adhesives), and penta, octa, and decabromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (used as flame retardants in a variety of consumer products).

Another key focus by the agency will be to accelerate efforts to gather critical data from industry that the agency needs to make chemical risk determinations. Click here for the EPA’s complete plans.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates chemicals in food, drugs and cosmetics, the EPA has jurisdiction over 80,000 chemicals.

Current codes do not require manufacturers to collect or submit toxicity data to the EPA, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition, legal roadblocks have meant the government has restricted or banned only five of those 80,000 chemicals, including dioxin, asbestos and hexavalent chromium, according to the newspaper.

One bill expected to be reintroduced in the U.S. Senate this session would require chemicals used in baby bottles, children’s toys and other products to be proved safe before they are put on store shelves, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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