Indiana University report finds REACH unworkable for the United States, and for TSCA

As the debate on modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) continues, it’s important to look to policies and practices in other major chemical regulatory systems, such as those in Europe and Canada, to find efficient and effective ways to enhance public, industry and government confidence in how chemicals are assessed and regulated in the United States.

While there are some valuable lessons to be learned from Europe, it is clear that simply adopting REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) in the United States is not the answer for modifications to TSCA.  Just last week, a report from Indiana University identified several ways in which REACH, as it is written and implemented, would not work well for the United States.

Importantly, the report found REACH to be “much more complex and burdensome than the program needs to be to accomplish its objectives,” and outlined two key findings for streamlining REACH that could help guide the effort to improve TSCA.

  • It is critical to set priorities based on the potential risk of specific chemical uses. This is a problem with TSCA as well, which is why ACC proposed a comprehensive prioritization system that EPA could apply to make better use of its resources.  As the report found, a chemical regulatory system must be more than a simple warehouse of information; it must be a system that promotes sound decision-making by government, industry and chemical users.
  • The U.S. should adopt a policy that makes use of the data, information and assessments on chemicals that have been generated by REACH. This will help to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts by the government and global companies. ACC agrees that the most efficient use of chemical data and information is a critical policy objective for any regulatory system.

TSCA modernization provides an important opportunity for the United States to set the benchmark for a regulatory system that builds confidence in effective regulation, applies the best available science, and leverages the competitive power of American chemistry to innovate solutions for the future.

Although REACH is a significant development in chemical regulatory systems, the Indiana University report makes clear that it is far from the “gold-standard” for efficient regulatory approaches.

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