By Pat Rizzuto
March 25 — Chemical manufacturers that want to underscore the safety of a chemical they make should consider submitting it for inclusion in the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Chemical Ingredients List, the head of EPA's chemicals and pesticide office said.
The list has more than 700 chemicals that have been evaluated using the EPA's rigourous criteria, Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, said March 23 at the Global Chemical Regulations Conference.
“They're not persistent, not bioaccumulative and have a very low hazard,” Jones said at the annual conference co-hosted by the American Chemistry Council and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).
Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, director of the EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, said the EPA compiled the list based on chemical ingredients in cleaning, car care and other products that have qualified for the agency's Safer Choice program, formerly known as the Design for the Environment.
Products can qualify for a Safer Choice label if every ingredient meets a stringent set of EPA's health and environmental criteria. Products can bear the Safer Choice label only if each ingredient is among the safest for the function it provides, according to the Safer Choice website.
“EPA labels products so that consumers can easily choose ones that are safer for people and the environment. The program empowers consumers to protect their health and minimize impact on the environment through everyday purchasing decisions,” the EPA said.
If a particular chemical isn't in a labeled product, there is no reason a manufacturer can't submit that chemical to the Safer Choice program and have it evaluated against the EPA's criteria, Cleland-Hamnett said.
The EPA's SCIL website invites chemical manufacturers to submit their safer chemicals to the agency for review and listing. “Adding chemicals to the SCIL encourages innovation and growth in safer products, increase markets for business, and helps protect people and the environment,” the EPA said on the website, describing steps a company needs to list its chemical.
The agency seeks to expand the number of private-sector companies that check each chemical to verify it meets the agency's SCIL criteria, Cleland-Hamnett said. OPPT anticipates adding 75 chemicals to the SCIL list in 2016, she said.
“I’d like that list to be in the thousands, ultimately,” Jones said.
Jones said chemicals on the EPA's SCIL list “would fundamentally have no problem meeting the low priority standard in the Senate bill.”
He referred to the Senate's Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act. Formerly S. 697, the Senate passed its bill unanimously in December as an amendment to H.R. 2576, the House's TSCA Modernization Act .
The Senate bill would require the EPA to prioritize chemicals based on their potential human health and environmental concerns and initially designate 10 chemicals to be high priorities for further review and 10 to be low priorities. The number of chemicals designated as high- or low-priorities is to grow as the agency would gain experience implementing the law.
Mark Duvall, an attorney with Beveridge and Diamond PC, said Jones's comment that SCIL chemicals are low priorities suggests that the EPA sees the list as a resource it could use if the Senate bill's quotas to designate low priorities remain in a final TSCA-reform bill.
“He’s got a list of chemicals ready to fill that quota,” Duvall said.
“Maybe your chemical is on that list,” he said. Jones is suggesting, if it is not, it could be, Duvall said.
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