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NRDC report misses the point; Getting chemical risk assessments right is in the interest of us all

Getting chemical risk assessments right is in the interest of us all – a crucial point overlooked by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in their recent report questioning EPA’s ability to assess chemicals through the Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

ACC supports efforts to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to reflect advances in scientific understanding and the applications of chemistry. But even as Congress considers changes to TSCA, a robust system of regulations and programs are in place to protect public health and the environment.

Some of these regulations and programs can be improved today, including overhauling EPA’s IRIS program to enhance public confidence. As E&E Daily’s Jeremy Jacobs explains:

[quote]NRDC accuses industry of engaging in a ‘delay game’ to prevent IRIS assessments, which can result in stricter regulations on chemicals, and says industry’s efforts put the public health at risk. But the chemical industry disagrees with the findings. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said that the IRIS program is broken — a claim that is supported by the Government Accountability Office adding it to the ‘high risk’ list of troubled federal programs this year. ‘The program has drawn sharp criticism from experts in the science community, including the independent experts at the National Academy of Sciences,’ ACC said in a statement. ‘Getting it right should be in the interest of us all.'[/quote]

Those criticisms were echoed more recently by U.S. Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), as well as the chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), in a letter to the White House questioning the quality of the assessments being done under the IRIS program. (You can read the Congressmen’s press release here.)

While ACC understands NRDC concerns regarding timely decisions for chemical assessments, its proposals for IRIS reform would not lead to more accurate science. Rather, they would create regulatory whiplash for manufacturers as they attempt to comply with shifting regulations that are based not on expert consensus, but on EPA’s ability to meet deadlines – a persistent problem for the agency today.

That’s why we are working with EPA to make risk assessments fundamentally more reliable and accurate, so that the public, public health professionals and industry can make decisions in a more timely manner.

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Statement

October 18, 2011

Contact: Scott Jensen (202) 249-6511

Email: scott_jensen@americanchemistry.com

ACC STATEMENT REGARDING NRDC REPORT “THE DELAY GAME”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2011) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) prepared the following holding statement in response to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report entitled the “The Delay Game” regarding the way chemical assessments are being conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

“Anyone who looks at the evidence can see that the EPA’s chemical assessment program is broken. The program has drawn sharp criticism from experts in the science community, including the independent experts at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

“Pushing flawed assessments out the door only creates public confusion, unwarranted alarm, unnecessary product de-selection and litigation, all of which can put jobs at risk without sound scientific basis. The current deficiencies and lack of confidence in the program cause delays and unnecessary costs.

“We are proposing concrete ways to make pending and future reviews more accurate and more credible. Getting it right should be in the interest of us all. Fixing EPA’s approach to risk assessments will ensure that the program completes assessments more efficiently and provides answers to the public, public health professionals and industry in a far more timely way.

“While we all can agree that EPA’s system of assessing risks is broken, there is a right way and wrong way to fix it. ACC is seeking to make risk assessments fundamentally more reliable and accurate, so we can eliminate delays from the get-go. Unlike ACC’s proposed reforms, the NRDC’s proposals would not lead to more accurate science. Instead NRDC’s suggestions would create regulatory whiplash for manufacturers as they attempt to comply with shifting regulations that are based not on expert consensus, but on EPA’s ability to meet deadlines – a persistent problem for the agency today.”

ACC represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry and 90 percent of the productive capacity for basic industrial chemicals in the United States. The business of chemistry is a $504 billion a year high-tech industry and one of the largest and most globally competitive exporting sectors in the U.S., with exports totaling $109 billion in 2004. U.S. chemicals exports support 227,000 of the nearly a million American jobs provided by the chemical industry.

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www.americanchemistry.com/newsroom

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people’s lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $720 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation’s economy. It is one of the nation’s largest exporters, accounting for ten cents out of every dollar in U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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