New Tool Proposed for Assessing Chemical Risks

The American Chemistry Council proposed it, with CEO Cal Dooley saying the new system would improve public confidence in EPA's regulation of chemicals.

The American Chemistry Council proposed a comprehensive, scientifically based system that could be used by EPA to decide which chemicals require additional review and assessment, possibly offering a solution to the agency's quest to update the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"As outlined in ACC's principles for modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act, establishing a clear and scientifically sound prioritization process is key to creating a world-class chemical management system," ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley said Sept. 6. "We believe the prioritization tool we're proposing today will help EPA evaluate chemicals more efficiently and effectively and improve public confidence in the agency's regulation of chemicals."

Now 35 years old, TSCA does not dictate a process to use the information currently available to prioritize chemicals for review. ACC said with no system in place, EPA may be wasting time, energy, and resources gathering and analyzing data on chemicals that are already well understood or are unlikely to pose a significant risk to public health or the environment. "ACC worked closely with experts from our member companies to develop a tool that will enable the public, public health officials, lawmakers, and businesses to understand better which chemicals and uses warrant priority evaluation by EPA and which do not," said Mike Walls, the council's vice president of Regulatory and Technical Affairs.

The system would evaluate chemicals against consistent scientific criteria that take into account both hazard and exposure, giving each chemical a score based on the criteria and then ranking it based on the scores and EPA's best professional scientific judgment. The rankings would be used to determine which chemicals are referred to EPA's Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention for further assessment.

Before it was announced, representatives from ACC met with officials at EPA to discuss the tool and how it could inform the agency's stakeholder dialogue on prioritization that took place Sept. 7. "We are glad that EPA has recognized the urgent need to prioritize chemicals for review," said Dooley.

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