EPA and OSHA Improve System for Review of New Chemicals

by | Jan 14, 2021

The EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have announced an agreement that advances collaboration and communication on the EPA’s review of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act. This memorandum of understanding provides a framework for coordination and communication between the two agencies regarding exposure to new chemicals in the workplace.

As required by the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA and OSHA have been collaborating on workplace exposures as part of EPA’s review of new chemicals. The new memorandum of understanding formalizes coordination efforts that the agencies have already implemented.

Highlights of the memorandum of agreement include:

  • Establishing designated staff and management points of contact from each agency to discuss and resolve workplace exposure issues related to the EPA’s review of new chemicals;
  • Providing OSHA with regular updates on the EPA’s new chemical determinations, including any necessary worker protection identified during the EPA’s review;
  • Documenting the EPA’s role in identifying and notifying OSHA of the need for formal consultation on EPA’s review of new chemicals.

The agreement will help the agencies ensure the safety of workers while reviewing the health and environmental risks associated with new chemicals before they enter the market, says Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The memorandum of agreement builds on several improvements made over the past four years to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of the agency’s new chemicals program, the EPA says. Over the past year, EPA has taken unprecedented steps to meet the agency’s legal requirements while increasing the amount of information made publicly available on new chemicals.

This week, the EPA also released its 2020 Year in Review. Highlights, according to the agency, include:

  • Finalizing the first greenhouse gas emissions standards for aircraft.
  • Reviewing and retaining, without changes, the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the Obama-Biden Administration, which marks only the second time in Clean Air Act history that the agency has completed a NAAQS review within the congressionally mandated five-year timeframe.
  • Finalizing the first major overhaul to the Lead and Copper Rule for the first time in nearly 30 years to ensure the safety of drinking water for children and young adults.
  • Deleting all or part of 27 sites from the National Priorities List (NPL) for the second consecutive year, which was the largest number of deletions in a single year since FY 2001.
  • Establishing the Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains to assume oversight responsibilities for federal hardrock mining cleanup sites west of the Mississippi River; serve as a central contact for other federal agencies, states and tribes with responsibility for or impacted by these sites; and develop innovative technologies and adaptive management approaches to address legacy pollution.
  • Unveiling America’s newest National Recycling Goal to increase the national recycling rate to 50% — up from roughly 32% — by 2030.
  • Releasing the US Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issue of Marine Litter, which outlines the comprehensive approach the administration is leading domestically and internationally to preventing trash, litter, and garbage—including plastics—from entering marine and freshwater environments.
  • In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the pesticides program developed List N: Surface Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. This is a list of more than 500 products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The full Year in Review can be viewed here.

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