U.S., Canada and Mexico Announce Partnership for Industrial Chemical Safety

ON Aug. 21, the United States, Canada and Mexico announced a regional partnership to assess and manage the potential risks of industrial chemicals.

This regional partnership, announced in Montebello, Quebec, is the result of discussions between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Leaders' Summit.

As part of the regional agreement, the three countries' top environmental officials agreed that their agencies would coordinate efforts to assess and take action on industrial chemicals. The United States, by 2012, will complete risk characterizations and take action, as needed, on more than 9,000 chemicals produced above 25,000 pounds per year. It also provides for the sharing of scientific information and technical understanding, best practices and research on new approaches to chemical testing and assessment. The agreement establishes goals to be met by 2020, which includes creating and updating chemical inventories in all three countries, as well as coordinating the management of chemicals in North America as outlined in other international agreements.

This U.S. commitment to complete assessments and take needed action on 9,000 chemicals will apply the results of EPA's work on high production volume (HPV) chemicals and extend its efforts to moderate production volume chemicals. The 2012 goal is to ensure that these chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize risks to health and the environment.

This agreement will build on Canada's Chemical Management Program to categorize chemicals for review, assessment and management and EPA's HPV Challenge Program. The HPV program challenged the U.S. chemical industry to provide the public with basic health and safety data on chemicals that are manufactured or used in quantities in excess of a million pounds a year. Later this month, EPA will release an initial set of reports evaluating the potential hazards of HPV chemicals.

EPA plans to use the Canadian results as a starting point for U.S. efforts to assess the hazards of moderate-volume chemicals, using available data and hazard estimation approaches to prepare initial scientific assessments.

Additional information on this effort can be found at http://www.epa.gov/chemrtk/index.htm.

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