Enviros say 300 US chemicals on Reach hit list

30 September 2008 22:33  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--As many as 300 US-produced chemicals will qualify as substances of very high concern under the new EU chemicals control regime, environmental groups said on Tuesday, but a US industry group challenged the finding.


The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said that research by it and a Swedish nongovernmental interest group determined that “many of the hundreds of chemicals already identified as dangerous by the EU are being produced or imported in the US in large amounts and at many different sites”.


The fund said that an analysis by the Swedish private group ChemSec using criteria of the EU’s registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals (Reach) programme found that nearly 300 chemicals widely produced or used in the US likely will qualify as “substances of very high concern” (SVHCs) under the EU rules.


However, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) contested the EDF’s conclusions, saying the ChemSec list “is simply one interest group’s recommendations on what chemicals should be subject to use-specific authorisation under Reach”.


The council said that ChemSec’s list “is not a formal element of the Reach programme and could create serious confusion for chemical manufacturers, distributors and their customers”.


ACC noted that the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is responsible for proposing chemicals for authorization and that “to date, ECHA has proposed an initial list of 16 substances”.


Nevertheless, EDF argued in a statement that ChemSec’s findings "provide compelling evidence for the US Congress to protect public health by reforming the nation’s primary chemical safety law, the 32-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)”.


The council also challenged the fund’s report on grounds that “it implies that there are unregulated exposures to the listed chemicals and creates the potential for unwarranted public concern”.  ACC noted that many of the substances on ChemSec’s list are subject to various US environmental controls in addition to TSCA.


Leading environmental officials in Congress, including Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California), have called for reform of TSCA along the lines of the EU’s Reach programme.


Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has indicated that she will pursue reform of TSCA in 2009 with an eye toward implementing the precautionary principle as fundamental to changes in US federal chemical controls.


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By: Joe Kamalick
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