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SOCMA Urges Congress to Take Risk-Based Approach to TSCA Reform

November 17, 2009
In testimony to a key panel of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) urged Congress to avoid sweeping changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and to preserve a risk-based approach to chemicals management.

In remarks to a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Beth D. Bosley, managing director for Boron Specialties in Pittsburgh, said SOCMA recognizes that revisions to the decades-old statute are necessary and advocated for a pragmatic approach. SOCMA was the only chemical manufacturing association testifying in defense of the chemical industry.

“SOCMA agrees that TSCA can be modernized, and that policy goals can be accomplished in a way that doesn’t devastate a strategic American industry that is already fighting recession and foreign competition,” Bosley explained.

She told lawmakers that two principles are essential to a sustainable chemical management law that won’t eliminate jobs, economic growth, or products. Bosley said TSCA priorities should be established based on risk; that is evaluation of hazard and exposure. For example, if a chemical is highly toxic, but used only in strictly controlled environments or in small quantities, the risk to public health is fairly minimal, she argued.

Bosley said the second principle involves leveraging regulatory mechanism that work such as the Canadian approach, which has systematically prioritized the nation’s inventory and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Chemicals Program, which allows the agency to review over 1000 chemicals each year.

She also pointed to the “inventory reset,” which was part of the EPA’s recently discontinued Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP). Of the over 80,000 chemicals now listed on the inventory, data suggest that only 1/3 are presently in commerce. The reset would have provided an accurate measure of the number of chemicals in commerce.

“We need to prioritize and categorize the universe of chemicals,” Bosley said. “ChAMP should not have been abandoned because it will just have to be reinstituted under another name.

“We should recognize the massive amount of data that was generated by EPA’s High Production Volume Program and leverage that data in making initial determinations of risk.”

Bosley said SOCMA members have a deep commitment to the safe use of chemicals and cautioned against burdening EPA with having to determine each chemical safe for its intended use. She also stressed that the agency must be adequately funded in order to properly fulfill its mandate.

SOCMA also testified before the Subcommittee last February on the issue of TSCA reform.
 
SOCMA is the leading trade association, serving the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry since 1921. SOCMA’s nearly 300 members employ more than 100,000 workers across the country and produce 50,000 products valued at $60 billion annually. For more information, visit www.socma.com.