Trump’s EPA Sets New Rules for Chemicals Under TSCA
New chemical reviews are speeding up at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), before newly developed chemicals can be used in the U.S., EPA must review them for safety. Administrator Scott Pruitt recently announced how the agency plans to do this, stating that the rules will protect human health and the environment “while also being supportive of bringing new chemicals to market.”
The changes include faster reviews, more collaboration with chemical manufacturers, and a subtle but important shift in how the agency will conduct risk evaluations—predictions of how likely a chemical is to harm people or the environment.
EPA will focus on the “intended uses” of new chemicals, meaning the specific uses the chemical manufacturer already expects. “Reasonably foreseen uses”—things the new chemical could be used for in the future—will be taken into account only “where facts suggest the activity is not only possible, but, over time under proper conditions, probable.” This suggests the agency will focus its risk evaluations narrowly and is unlikely to account for potential hazardous impacts throughout manufacture, use, and degradation.
The American Chemistry Council praised the new rules, saying in an email statement to BuildingGreen, “We strongly support the Administrator’s commitment to a more predictable and transparent process for decision-making and look forward to continued collaboration in achieving these improvements.”
Chemical watchdog groups were more hesitant. “I thought we were finally making progress with TSCA reform,” wrote Richard Denison, Ph.D., of the Environmental Defense Fund in a recent blog post. “The law requires … that EPA must conduct broad reviews of chemicals across their full life cycles and accounting for their known, intended, and reasonably foreseen uses,” he explained. “Yet the changes made to the final rules represent a renewed effort to move us squarely away from that.”
The new rules do not cover how EPA handles chemicals already on the market.
More on risk assessment and chemical regulations
For more information:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Published August 25, 2017