Corrected: US ACC forms centre to advance risk-based assessments

17 April 2009 20:44  [Source: ICIS news]

Correction: In the ICIS news story headlined “US ACC forms centre to advance risk-based assessments” dated 17 April 2009, please read in the 4th, 11th, 13th and 14th paragraphs … Becker … instead of  … Baker …. A corrected story follows.

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Friday it has formed a multi-sector group to advance scientific knowledge for risk-based assessments to help inform government policy decisions.

The council said the group, called the Center for Advancing Risk Assessment Science and Policy (ARASP), will operate in the council’s offices in Arlington, Virginia, and will include research-oriented organisations outside of the ACC.

Although formation of the centre comes as the US Congress is poised to begin a comprehensive review and revision of the nation’s principal chemicals control law - the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) - council officials said the centre was not created in anticipation of that or other US or international chemicals legislation.

“The key driving force is the advancements made in the last ten years in our knowledge of how chemicals can act at the molecular, cellular and organ levels, the exposure levels and dose effects,” said Richard Becker, senior toxicologist at the council.

“There is a keen need to improve the methodology and make it more reflective of current modern science,” he said.

“We’ve been talking about this for a while,” he added. “We need to form a collaborative effort of groups doing this research and understand how to leverage this knowledge to advance risk assessment.”

“We will be focused on and building on investments in research in chemical reactions for use in policy assessments,” he said.

The ACC and other chemical industry trade groups and representatives have urged Congress to retain the risk-based principle that underlies TSCA. 

Some in Congress and many in the US environmental community want to see TSCA recast as a US version of the EU’s registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach), which is based on the precautionary principle.

The ARASP centre will be self-funded by its members, which initially include four chemical-specific panels within ACC (acrylonitrile, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide and olefins) along with the council’s chlorine chemistry division, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Formaldehyde Council and the Styrene Information and Research Council (SIRC).

Becker said that the size of the centre’s staff and its budget have yet to be determined.

Among other issues, the centre will work to develop a greater understanding of how to relate dose-dependent transitions in biological responses to adverse effects. 

That knowledge can then be used “in extrapolating from higher dose lab studies to develop risk assessments at environmentally relevant exposures,” Becker said.

He said the centre likely will sponsor workshops, reports and position papers and bring together scientists to develop white papers, all of which could be used “in discussions with government agencies involved in risk assessment”.

Becker added that the group initially will focus on US domestic issues during its first year of operation, “but we also will raise the question that these issues are global in nature”.

The centre will hold meetings every month or six weeks, he said, with a meeting planned for later this month.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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