Friday, May 02, 2008

EDF Says EPA's ChAMP Doesn’t Have The "REACH"

May 2: A new analysis by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) indicates that a set of mostly voluntary initiatives recently announced by the U.S. EPA to identify and manage the risks of thousands of chemicals "will provide far less protection than the more comprehensive approach taken under the European Union’s new REACH Regulation" [Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH), See WIMS 12/13/06, See EcoBizPort REACH]. EDF presented its latest critique of EPA’s Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) at a meeting held by EPA to receive input on its initiatives.

On March 18, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson at a presentation to the Global Chemical Regulation Conference indicated, "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. . . I believe this approach can provide a more focused, productive and workable scheme than the REACH framework. . ." As part of that effort EPA 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. The commitment is ChAMPs. [See WIMS 3/19/08]

Dr. Richard Denison, EDF Senior Scientist said, “ChAMP just doesn’t have the reach of REACH, despite EPA’s efforts to claim otherwise. It will yield far less data on far fewer chemicals. In its haste to catch up with other global initiatives, EPA intends to make decisions about risk using incomplete or poor quality information, especially with respect to how chemicals are used and how people and the environment are exposed to them.” He said many of ChAMP’s shortcomings can be directly traced to structural deficiencies in the authority EPA has been provided under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the main U.S. statute that governs how tens of thousands of chemicals are produced, used and disposed of.

EDF’s analysis identified a number of additional shortcomings of ChAMP including: A lack of transparency in describing what information EPA possesses and relies on to judge the likelihood of exposure to the chemicals it is assessing; Failure to initiate steps to fill the gaps in safety data EPA has identified, and to compel testing of chemicals whose manufacturers have not volunteered to develop the needed data; Significantly overstating the number of high-volume chemicals for which EPA has data necessary to conduct screening-level hazard and risk characterizations; and Reliance on information provided by manufacturers on how a chemical is used even when other available information indicates additional uses that could cause greater exposure.

Access a release from EDF and link to their recent analysis as well as other recent analyses of chemicals policies in the U.S. and other jurisdictions (click here). Access the Federal Register notice of the meeting (click here). Access complete information on the SPP (click here). Access complete information on ChAMP (click here). [*Toxics]