It’s been just five weeks since the president signed the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act (LCSA) into law, and we’re already seeing strong evidence that the law is working the way it should.
Late last week, in one of EPA’s first actions under the new law, the Agency evaluated a group of new chemicals submitted to EPA for review and published its first affirmative determinations. The Agency determined that four new chemicals – three lubricants and a finishing agent – are “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” to human health or the environment.
These affirmative determinations by EPA, based on the new, risk-based chemical review process outlined under the LCSA, marks the start of implementation of the LCSA’s chemical regulatory regime for the U.S. – and it tells us two important things:
- That the Agency was able to review and approve these new substances efficiently and in a transparent and timely manner under the new law;
- And, in so doing, U.S. companies can have confidence that they can bring new products to market in a time frame that will allow them to compete globally and give people more confidence in the safety of the products.
How new chemical reviews and determinations work under the new LCSA
Under the LCSA, just as under old TSCA, EPA must review a company’s “pre-manufacture notice” on a new chemical before the new chemical can come to market. What’s new about the LCSA is that EPA must publish an “affirmative determination” of its decision about the new chemical.
In the process outlined under the law, manufacturers provide information to EPA about new chemicals and their intended uses. Those chemicals undergo a risk-based review where EPA evaluates information about the chemical, including the chemical’s characteristics and its intended uses, as well as available testing and exposure data and information. If the Agency finds that the chemical is not likely to present an unreasonable risk, the chemical can proceed to market. On the other hand, if the Agency finds the chemical presents an unreasonable risk, EPA must take regulatory action to the extent necessary to protect against such risk, including restrictions or a prohibition. If EPA concludes that it lacks sufficient information to evaluate a new chemical, it can determine that the chemical “may present” an unreasonable risk and issue an order restricting the new chemical, pending further information.
For the industry, a workable, new chemicals program helps innovation, growth and competitiveness. A workable program allows companies to move innovative solutions quickly to the marketplace after an EPA determination, make decisions about next steps or adjust plans for the future accordingly.
For consumers, an EPA affirmative decision about a new chemical’s safety is more transparent. It also provides greater peace of mind. Knowing that new chemicals not only provide valuable benefits to everyday products, but also that those chemicals have been reviewed for safety by EPA before they hit the shelves, should help give people more confidence in the safety of the products they purchase for themselves and their families.