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What can the U.S. learn from other countries when it comes to regulating chemicals? GlobalChem keynote speaker Professor John Graham weighs in

When it comes to building a world-class chemicals management system here in the U.S., some experts have said that one important thing we can do is look at how other countries have tackled key issues. One of those experts, Professor John Graham of the University of Indiana, recently coauthored a guest column on lessons for TSCA reform and will share his insights at this year’s GlobalChem conference.

According to Graham, chemical regulatory regimes in Canada, and even Europe’s REACH, can help inform our efforts to enhance public, industry and government confidence in the assessment and regulation of chemicals in the United States.

We asked Professor Graham to share some of his views and provide a preview of his speech at GlobalChem on Tuesday by answering the following three quick questions:

Q1. What can the U.S. learn from chemicals policy in Canada?

Canada has demonstrated a practical priority-setting scheme that allows regulators, industry and NGOs to focus on uses of chemicals that pose the highest risk. Priority setting is critical because there are tens of thousands of chemicals on the market (many with low-volume applications) and the number that require priority risk assessment and management are probably less than 1,000.

Q2. Is Europe’s REACH a good model for chemicals policy reform in the U.S.?

No, not in it’s entirety. It is far too complex and burdensome to be appropriate in America’s market-oriented economy. But it does have two innovations that, if adapted wisely, could help move U.S. policy forward. One places the scientific burden of risk assessment on industry, where it belongs. And one authorizes – and compels — companies and users to collaborate on risk assessment.

Q3. Are you saying the U.S. should merge innovations from both Canada and the USA?

Exactly. The U.S. should “take the best from both worlds” and combine them in a distinctively American approach to chemical regulation. We could have a Canadian-style priority-setting process coupled with an EU-style registration system for a limited number of chemicals.

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