US EPA orders testing of 19 high-volume chemicals

04 January 2011 23:05  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday said it would require US manufacturers of 19 chemicals to conduct health and environmental testing of those substances, an action generally welcomed by industry officials.

The 19 substances for which the EPA is ordering testing are those known as “orphan chemicals” among industry officials.

Under the 11-year-old voluntary testing programme for high-production volume (HPV) chemicals - those produced or imported in quantities of more than 450 tonnes annually - US companies have provided health and environmental test data to EPA on more than 2,200 HPV substances.

Ordinarily, several manufacturers of the same HPV chemical have cooperated to share the cost of testing. But some substances have remained “unsponsored”, and EPA periodically issues what amounts to an order requiring those firms that do produce them to do the testing.

In this case as in earlier orphan-chemical instances, to obtain test results on chemicals for which there is no voluntary sponsor, EPA issued data requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The agency said on Tuesday that some of the 19 orphan chemicals are in wide use as components in industrial and consumer products, such as textile dyes and personal care items.

However, EPA said that while the 19 substances may meet the HPV testing threshold of 450 tonnes annually, the totals for each of the chemicals likely include both domestically produced quantities and imports.

Consequently, a domestic producer manufacturing less than the threshold of 450 tonnes/year might not feel obligated to sponsor testing for that HPV substance.

Major US chemical trade groups welcomed the EPA announcement.

Lawrence Sloan, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), noted that his organisation “has regularly advocated fuller implementation of TSCA as a way for EPA to generate useful information”.

Sloan said that SOCMA would rather see EPA make fuller use of its powers under TSCA instead of seeing sweeping legislative proposals from those in Congress intent on toughening US chemicals controls regulations.

Under TSCA, Sloan said, “EPA has broad authority to issue rules requiring testing of existing chemicals [and] SOCMA believes that EPA’s use of this authority needs to be examined.”

“We question whether it has been implemented to its full potential,” Sloan added.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) also welcomed the EPA announcement.

“We are encouraged by this latest action by the EPA as it takes appropriate steps to collect the information needed to review priority chemicals,” said council spokesman Scott Jensen.

Generally, mainstream US chemical manufacturers who budget financial and other resources to meet federal and state regulatory obligations are eager to see regulators require equal participation by those producers who otherwise might avoid those requirements.

The list of the 19 substances is available at the EPA’s website.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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