TSCA Reform Debuts in the 113th Congress.

Last week, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, which would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). The Safe Chemicals Act is identical to legislation approved last year by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Safe Chemicals Act grants greater authority to the EPA to:

  • evaluate the safety of chemicals based on risk;
  • update EPA’s TSCA Inventory, first focusing review on priority chemicals;
  • order additional testing of chemicals when existing health and safety data is inadequate;
  • require regular use reporting;
  • impose a broad range of risk-management controls for chemicals that fail to meet safety standards; and
  • establish a public database of safety determinations and health and safety data.

The legislation’s focus on risk combines both hazard- and exposure-based methods of safety assessment. Under the bill’s new safety standard, EPA must determine that there is “reasonable certainty that no harm will result to human health or the environment from aggregate exposure” to evaluated chemicals. Such safety determinations must also follow recommendations on “best available science” from the National Academy of Sciences. EPA would evaluate and make safety determinations for all chemicals in the TSCA Inventory based on a priority classification scheme which uses existing data and considers the following factors: potential impacts on human health and the environment; hazard potential, including “designations of hazard characteristics by other authoritative entities”; potential for exposure; and measurements of exposure for any given pathway, if available. For chemicals that do not meet the safety standard, EPA would be able to implement controls ranging from requiring warning labels to imposing an outright manufacturing ban.

The proposed regular use reporting would apply to manufacturers and processors, and is similar to the existing Chemical Data Reporting rule. The bill also incorporates amendments made in committee to last year’s bill which aim to better protect manufacturers’ confidential business information, including specific protections applicable to certain types of information, like “[p]recise information describing the manufacture, processing, or distribution of a chemical substance or mixture” or marketing and sales data.

Lautenberg, who has announced he will retire in 2014, has introduced several TSCA reform bills during his career, and hopes to make the Safe Chemicals Act his “signature legislation for his final term in office.” Twenty-seven other members of the Senate’s Democratic caucus have joined Lautenberg and Gillibrand in sponsoring this bill. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has already announced his intention to introduce a competing bill for this Congress; he led Republican efforts on TSCA modernization in the 112th Congress.

The full text of the Safe Chemicals Act is available on Sen. Lautenberg’s website.

California’s New Revisions to Proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulations Released.

Last week, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) released the revised proposed regulations implementing the Safer Consumer Products law. The 15-day public comment period for the revised proposed regulations is open through April 25, 2013. The revised text, as well as an underline/strike-out version showing changes from the January 2013 version, is available online.

Notably, the revisions contain several changes affecting Alternatives Analysis. The definition of “Alternatives Analysis Threshold” now means the Practical Quantitation Limit or another applicable concentration limit which DTSC may specify. Under the new provision at §69503.5(c), DTSC may set a threshold concentration in a proposed or final Priority Products list for any Chemical of Concern that is an “intentionally added ingredient.” Under this provision, DTSC may also specify a threshold concentration higher than the Practical Quantitation Limit for any Chemical of Concern that is a contaminant. In addition, the revised regulations move the requirement for identifying factors relevant to comparing a Priority Product and alternatives (such as adverse public health impacts or physical chemical hazards) from the second to the first step of the Alternatives Analysis process. The new § 69505.8 provides that Final Alternatives Analysis Reports will now be subject to a public comment period, instead of the Preliminary Alternatives Analysis Report. The responsible entity will not be required to respond to all public comments, but instead will only have to address issues identified by DTSC upon review of the comments in an “AA Report Addendum.”

The revised proposed regulations change the definitions of several other key terms. The definition of “assemble” was revised to clearly specify repair and maintenance activities, and “manufacturer” now means anyone who “specifies the use of chemicals to be included in the product,” rather than anyone who has the capacity to do so. “Reliable information” has been re-defined to include only information that could be considered “scientific.” The definition also now specifies that the information must meet certain criteria – such as publication in a scientifically peer reviewed report or by a government agency “that implements laws governing chemicals” – which under the previous version were only considered as indicators of a study’s trustworthiness.

In addition, the revisions removed the provision requiring manufacturers to compensate retailers participating in any end-of-life collection program. In its summary of changes [PDF], DTSC states that these costs will instead be addressed by agreements between manufacturers and retailers.

For more information about California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulations, contact Verdant Law.

Verdant Proudly Sponsors Prop.65 Clearinghouse's Green Chemistry Conference

Green Chemistry:

Verdant is pleased to announce its sponsorship of the Prop.65 Clearinghouse Green Chemistry Annual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at the The City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street.

  • Verdant attorney, Philip Moffat, will present on “REACH 2013.”
  • Verdant attorney, Catherine Lin, will present on “Supply Chain Management.”

More information about the conference is available here and an agenda is available here.   A copy of Mr. Moffat’s presentation is available here [PDF].