Senator Lautenberg said, "America's system for regulating industrial chemicals is broken. Parents are afraid because hundreds of untested chemicals are found in their children's bodies. EPA does not have the tools to act on dangerous chemicals and the chemical industry has asked for stronger laws so that their customers are assured their products are safe. My 'Safe Chemicals Act' will breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals. Chemical safety reform is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is a common-sense issue and I look forward to building bipartisan support for this measure."
According to a release from Senator Lautenberg, the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" requires safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order stay on the market. Under current policy, the EPA can only call for safety testing after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances. The new legislation will give EPA more power to regulate the use of dangerous chemicals and require manufacturers to submit information proving the safety of every chemical in production and any new chemical seeking to enter the market.
Over the last several months, Senator Lautenberg has chaired a series of hearings to help craft the "Safe Chemicals Act" with dozens of witnesses including business leaders, public officials, scientists, doctors, academics, and non-profit organizations [See WIMS 3/9/10, WIMS 2/4/10]. . Through the hearings, public health groups, environmentalists, industry representatives and the EPA have expressed support for reforms to our nation's toxic substance laws. The "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" comports with the reform principles laid out by the Obama Administration, the American Chemistry Council and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition.
- Provides EPA with sufficient information to judge a chemical's safety. Requires manufacturers to develop and submit a minimum data set for each chemical they produce, while also preventing duplicative or unnecessary testing. EPA will have full authority to request additional information needed to determine the safety of a chemical.
- Prioritizes chemicals based on risk. Calls on the EPA to categorize chemicals based on risk, and focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm.
- Ensures safety threshold is met for all chemicals on the market. Places the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to prove the safety of their chemicals. All uses must be identified and determined safe for the chemical to enter the market or continue to be used.
- Takes fast action to address highest risk chemicals. Requires EPA to take fast action to reduce risk from chemicals that have already been proven dangerous. In addition, the EPA Administrator is given authority to act quickly if any chemical poses an imminent hazard.
- Creates open access to reliable chemical information. Establishes a public database to catalog the information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA's safety determinations. The EPA will impose requirements to ensure the information collected is reliable.
- Promotes innovation and development of green chemistry. Establishes grant programs and research centers to foster the development of safe chemical alternatives, and brings some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.
"We are encouraged that the Safe Chemicals Act (SCA) reflects some aspects of the principles that ACC released last year, which are mirrored by EPA's principles. These include the need to prioritize chemicals for evaluation, a risk-based approach to EPA safety reviews, and a reduction in animal testing. However, we are concerned that the bill's proposed decision-making standard may be legally and technically impossible to meet. The proposed changes to the new chemicals program could hamper innovation in new products, processes and technologies. In addition, the bill undermines business certainty by allowing states to adopt their own regulations and create a lack of regulatory uniformity for chemicals and the products that use them."
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a release indicating, "Lautenberg, Waxman and other members of Congress sponsored a toxic chemicals policy reform proposal known as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act in 2005 and again in 2008, but these measures did not have the broad support that has coalesced behind the current initiative. Today, the search for environmental causes of disease is a front-burner issue for scientists, medical professionals, policy-makers and health advocates. President Obama, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, key members of both houses of Congress, the environmental and health communities, countless citizens and the chemical industry itself agree that a new national policy must be crafted to fit the complex realities of the 21st century."