REACH Report Gets Industry's Notice

The report released Feb. 28 by researchers from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the IU European Union Center is being cited by the American Chemical Council as proof REACH won't work well in the US.

For months, leaders in the chemical industry have been debating what a revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) should require. With consensus apparently elusive, some have suggested modeling Europe's REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) regulations that were adopted in 2006 and are still being implemented. A new academic report concludes REACH is not a good scheme for the United States, and the American Chemistry Council's president and CEO, Cal Dooley, reiterated that point March 7 when he spoke at the GlobalChem conference in Baltimore.

"Some in the U.S. have pointed to the EU's REACH as a model for changes to TSCA," Dooley said, according to a transcript posted by ACC. "Some presumably have adopted that view in the interest of perceived convenience or ease. But there is ample reason to be skeptical of REACH as an appropriate model for the U.S. We simply do not have evidence that REACH will promote safety and innovation," he continued.

The report released on Feb. 28 is "Regulating Industrial Chemicals: Lessons for U.S. Lawmakers from the European Union's REACH Program." It was written by four people, including Adam Abelkop, a doctoral student at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; John D. Graham, dean and professor at the school; Lois R. Wise, a professor at the school and dean of the university's West European Studies and European Union Center; and Agnes Botos, a REACH consultant wih GHS-expert Ltd. in Hungary. The report concludes it is far too early to know whether REACH has measurably improved public health or the environment, and in fact that its total implementation costs are not yet clear. There have been some positives in its initial implementation phase (2006-2011), but it "appears that REACH is much more complex and burdensome than the program needs to be to accomplish its objectives," the authors concluded.

Dooley said there has been little real progress in the past three years on modernizing TSCA, even though multiple stakeholders have made significant efforts on it. A current proposal in the U.S. Senate, the Safe Chemicals Act, "would not achieve the goals of safety, innovation and future growth of the domestic chemical industry" because it is based on an "unworkable safety standard," he said. It would modify the new chemicals program to be even more restrictive than REACH, would fail to require systematic, scientifically based prioritization of chemicals for review, would cost billions of dollars to implement, and "would grow the size of the EPA to an extent that is unnecessary," he said.

Saying serious progress on TSCA reform is unlikely, he said ACC has stepped up its efforts to pursue improvements in current EPA regulations.

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