Wednesday, March 19, 2008

EPA Administrator Addresses GlobalChem Conference

Mar 18: U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson gave the keynote address at the Global Chemical Regulation Conference (GlobalChem), attended by more than 300 chemical industry regulatory, environmental and health officials, in Baltimore, MD. Johnson outlined the Agency's commitments to assess and initiate needed action on existing chemicals produced above 25,000 pounds per year made under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) and discussed several enhancements to EPA's Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP), a program created to implement SPP commitments.

In his speech to the conference, Johnson said, "we are delivering impressive results with a number of our key chemical-related stewardship programs. They include the High Production Volume Challenge program, the PFOA Stewardship program, Design for the Environment, Green Chemistry, and the Green Suppliers Network. . ." On the subject of nanotechnology, Johnson said, "it is an area that demands all of us -- EPA, and our federal and industry partners -- to take the necessary steps to assure nanotechnology is developed and used in responsible ways. The public expects our oversight of nanoscale materials be based on a firm scientific foundation, protective of their health and the environment. . . While the potential benefits of nanotechnology are limitless, we need to better understand the potential risks, and so I encourage the early and active industry participation in the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program [
See WIMS 1/28/08] to strengthen our scientific understanding in this exciting new arena."

Johnson spent a significant amount of time discussing the European REACH program and related U.S. and North American counterparts -- the SPP, ChAMP, TSCA and TRI. Johnson said, "the most telling effort highlighting the international nature of the chemical industry was the passage of REACH by the European Union [Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH),
See WIMS 12/13/06, See EcoBizPort REACH]. As you know, REACH -- which came into effect last June -- calls for the registration of all chemicals manufactured and imported into the European Union market at one ton or more per year. Registration will take place over a period of 11 years and will involve an estimated 30,000 existing chemical substances.

"While EPA supports the health and environmental protection goals of REACH, we believe that effective protection can be obtained through a more targeted and strategic approach to chemical assessment and management. In that vein, this past August, the countries of North America came together to announce a strategic approach under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP. At the SPP Leaders' Summit in Quebec, President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon committed our three countries to work together to accelerate and strengthen the management of chemicals in North America. I believe this approach can provide a more focused, productive and workable scheme than the REACH framework. . .

"I will say that for its part, the United States has made a commitment to complete initial assessments and take needed actions on the thousands of chemicals produced above 25,000 pounds-per-year in the U.S. by 2012. This commitment, which is now known as the Chemical Assessment and Management Program, or ChAMP, includes both high-production and moderate volume chemicals. ChAMP also builds on the U.S. HPV Challenge program and Canada’s work on chemical categorization … and our two countries have agreed to share scientific information, technical understanding, research strategies and best practices, and to collaborate when possible on risk management efforts.

"I believe this agreement to share information on thousands of high and moderate production volume chemicals will enable us to act more quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively on a greater number of chemicals. Therefore, our efforts under ChAMP will result in greater public health and environmental protection in the U.S. It will also help ensure a more consistent and better integrated approach to chemicals assessment and management throughout North America.

"In order to meet our SPP and ChAMP commitments, EPA is developing risk-based prioritizations for HPV chemicals, based on hazard, exposure and risk screening characterizations, and considering other relevant information such as biomonitoring. We have posted hazard characterizations on 200 chemicals and have just posted an initial set of the risk-based prioritizations. We look forward to your comments on this first set of risk-based prioritizations as we work to refine our approach over the course of the year.

"EPA’s collaborative efforts don’t end with our North American partners. We have already begun to engage with other countries on the SPP commitments. For instance, along with our Canadian and Mexican counterparts, we have initiated consultations with European Commission officials dealing with REACH, and with OECD countries, including France, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and Korea. . ."

Johnson also discussed what he called an effort to "reset" the TSCA Inventory. He said, "the TSCA Inventory now lists more than 83,000 chemicals -- a significant number of which are likely no longer being produced or imported. Therefore, I believe it is time to consider options for making the Inventory a more meaningful resource. By resetting the Inventory, we can more effectively manage those chemicals actually in use, and thereby avoid debate focused on chemicals that are only theoretically in commerce." He said he hoped the Agency could begin implementing approaches for the TSCA Inventory reset by the end of the summer.

Access Johnson's speech (
click here). Access complete information on the SPP (click here). Access complete information on ChAMP (click here). Access more information on GlobalChem (click here). [*Toxics]