US chemical safety bill still needs more work - trade group

28 July 2010 18:34  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A proposed bill intended to update the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) needs more work before it strikes the right balance between preserving innovation and improving the way the nation measures the safety of chemicals, the head of a trade group said on Wednesday.

"We think there is a way that could be done in a balanced approach," said Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Dooley planned to speak on Thursday before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Representatives Henry Waxman (Democrat-California) and Bobby Rush (Democrat-Illinois) introduced their 166-page “Toxic Chemicals Safety Act” (HR-5820) last week, saying it would effectively modernise TSCA, which has governed chemicals in US commerce for 34 years.

Among other things, the bill would create a review process to ensure that all chemicals in the marketplace are safe. Regulators could exempt chemicals already known to be safe.

The ACC had made reforming the act one of its highest priorities during the past two years, Dooley said. "We are very much committed to developing legislation that modernises TSCA."

While the ACC supported updating TSCA, it still found problems with the bill, Dooley said.

One provision regarding testing was too broad, Dooley said. That provision would require that any new chemical introduced into the market must be proven to cause no harm or risk.

"This would be a burden that would almost be impossible for a company to meet," Dooley said.

Instead, the testing provision should measure the risk from a new chemical's use in a specific product being introduced into the market, Dooley said.

Also, companies - particularly start-ups - could be overwhelmed by the amount of testing required by the bill, Dooley said.

"You have a lot of new companies or start-up companies that are developing these new chemicals that will be in a very difficult position to introduce these products to market," he said.

Other trade groups warned that the bill would discourage innovation and shift production and jobs overseas.

Final work on the House and Senate bills to reform and modernise TSCA was not expected until late next year.

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By: Al Greenwood
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