The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: August 29, 2007
EPA, industry score low on toxics test
(Nanowerk News) In news that is not boding well for the future of nanomaterial safety testing, Environmental Science & Technology today reports that the chemical industry fails to deliver on its promise to identify chemical hazards:
Even by the standard of a "gentleman's C", it's a failure. The chemical industry deserves a "D" for not providing the U.S. EPA with data it promised years ago as part of a voluntary chemicals testing program, according to a new report card from Environmental Defense (ED), an advocacy group. The poor performance of the EPA-sponsored High Production Volume (HPV) Chemical Challenge adds fuel to calls from environmentalists, academics, and even some industry representatives for overhauling U.S. chemicals management laws, experts say.
Now, more than 2 years after industry's 2004 deadline for submitting information on the 2200 chemicals, less than half of the final data sets have been submitted, the report card notes. No companies volunteered to compile hazard tests for the 10% of HPV chemicals, mostly from the coal, dye, and pigment industries, that were originally listed in the program but weren't agreed to by companies—the so-called orphans. ED gave EPA a "C–", for a tardy launch of the HPV database and for compelling data development for only 16 of the 265 orphans.
"Even if industry had lived up to the HPV Challenge 100%, it still would not have provided enough information to protect health," adds Bruce Jennings, a senior advisor to the Environmental Quality Committee of the California state legislature. The program lacked a depth and diversity of tests, such as exposure information and neurological and endocrine-disruption endpoints, he says.
Meanwhile, last year Canada completed a review of 23,000 chemicals after 8 years of study, less than the duration of the HPV Challenge, Jennings says. The narrow scope of the HPV Challenge also places it behind the EU's chemicals management law, Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (known as REACH), which compels industry to provide detailed tests on 30,000 chemicals, Ditz says.
The failure of TSCA and the HPV Challenge, as well as the growing regulatory gap between the U.S. and other countries, is raising pressure for reform of chemicals management laws, Jennings says. Bills introduced in the California legislature this year would encourage use of "green" chemicals and mandate detailed testing by industry. A TSCA reform bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Congress this year that will spark hearings on EPA's implementation of the chemicals law, but it is unclear how quickly Congress would adopt new legislation, Denison says.