DuPont urges careful reform of TSCA, sees risk to innovation

26 February 2013 22:50  [Source: ICIS news]

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland (ICIS)--Congress is facing a difficult and complex task in modernising the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and getting it wrong could jeopardise the US lead in chemical innovation, a top DuPont official said on Tuesday.

Terry Medley, DuPont’s global director for corporate regulatory affairs and advocacy, told some 450 chemical industry executives that reforming the 37-year-old TSCA poses a difficult challenge because “the products of chemistry touch almost every corner of our economy”.

Consequently, a poorly crafted TSCA reform package could have profound impact on the nation’s broad economy.

“It is important that we get this right,” Medley told those attending the annual international GlobalChem regulatory conference.

The possible modernisation of TSCA has been a major topic at the conference.

He said that TSCA reform ideally should enable a systematic assessment of existing chemicals in commerce; establish a streamlined approach for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to gather appropriate data at the right time; and support alternative testing and transparency.

Medley said that a new TSCA should prioritise all existing chemicals in commerce using a science-based hazard assessment and a risk-based approach and have regulators focus on the highest priority substances in the interests of protecting human health and the environment.

A new federal chemicals control system also would have to ensure that state and local interests are met in order to avoid potential federal-state conflicts and to head off a patchwork of multiple state regulatory programmes.

He said that data collected from producers under a new TSCA should allow for public access and should be made available to other governments to avoid duplication of efforts and rulemaking.

However, Medley added, a reform bill must provide security for producers’ confidential business information (CBI) in order to ensure that US industry’s technology and process advances are not compromised.

“If we simply give innovation away, there is little reason for companies to innovate,” he said. 

A modernised TSCA, he said, must allow for continued innovation and product development.

He also called for replacement of the existing TSCA’s “unreasonable risk” standard with a safety standard based on intended use and exposure.

Lastly, Medley said that EPA must be adequately funded and staffed so that the agency can carry out its regulatory functions in a timely manner.

Earlier, top chemical industry officials said that a comprehensive TSCA reform bill conceivably could be passed by Congress within the two-year span of the current 113th Congress – although a piecemeal approach to amending parts of the existing TSCA would be a fall-back option.

Cosponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), the annual GlobalChem regulatory conference runs through Wednesday of this week.

By: Joe Kamalick
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