2012 Data Reports Offer More Insight, Information; Less Data Claimed Confidential

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

The Environmental Protection Agency Feb. 11 released 2012 Chemical Data Reporting information that provides greater insight into chemical use patterns than it previously had been able to offer.

In addition, the data on more than 7,600 chemicals show that chemical manufacturers and importers claimed less information to be confidential than they have in the past, EPA said in a Fact Sheet.

Consumers, advocacy groups, academics, and other interested parties also will be able to view and sort the information more easily than in years past.

The increased data resulted from a regulation EPA updated and issued as final in August 2011. In that updated rule, EPA changed the regulation's name from the Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) rule to the CDR rule, and the agency expanded the amount of data chemical manufacturers and importers had to provide, the number of chemicals for which information had to be reported, and the frequency of reports (35 CRR 769, 8/8/11).

The updated rule mandated reports on production volume, use, exposure, and other information, and the 2012 information covers manufacturing and importation in calendar year 2011.

Data Released Much Quicker

For the first time, chemical manufacturers and importers were required to submit their reports electronically, which allowed EPA to release information in six months rather than 21 months, Richard Denison, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, told BNA Feb. 11.

“The 2012 Chemical Data Reporting information will help EPA and others better assess chemicals, evaluate potential exposures and use, and expand efforts to encourage the use of safer chemicals,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.

In a statement, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the CDR information “exposes the widespread use of chemicals in everyday consumer products, including those intended for our children.”

“Beyond collecting this data, the EPA has little power to require health and safety testing on any of these chemicals, even if experts suspect they are dangerous,” Lautenberg said, promising to “keep working aggressively on legislation to reform our broken chemical safety laws to better protect the health of our families.”

Lautenberg has introduced legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act since 2005, most recently through the Safe Chemicals Act, which he has said he will reintroduce in the 113th Congress (37 CRR 69, 1/21/13).

Data Highlights

Chemical manufacturers and importers provided EPA with CDR rule data for 7,674 chemicals produced or imported in volumes of 25,000 pounds or more at each of their manufacturing or importation sites, EPA said.

A total of 1,512 companies provided manufacturing and importation data for 4,753 sites, EPA said.

Of the total 7,674 chemicals, EPA obtained production and use information for 5,647 chemicals.

Due to the more detailed reporting requirements in the 2011 rule, EPA was able to release the national data in several categories including: Top 20 Chemicals Used in Children's Products, Top 20 Chemicals Used in Consumer Products, Top 20 Chemicals Used in Commercial Products, and Top Eight Industrial Sectors that Processed and Used Reportable Chemicals.

EPA also released the information in a searchable database that allows interested parties to sort the information by broad categories listing the ranges of the numbers of workers exposed, such as: less than 10 workers, 10-24 workers, 25-49 workers, up through more than 10,000 workers.

The American Chemistry Council issued a statement welcoming the release of the 2012 CDR data.

“Like previous chemical data reporting released to the public, this information will give EPA a clearer picture of how chemicals are used in commercial and consumer products, including in products intended for use by children. ACC supports EPA's efforts in the CDR to improve how EPA collects chemical information and releases it to the public,” the trade association said.

Data 'Significant Improvement'

Denison said the amount of information and accessibility represents a “significant improvement” from years past.

In response to requests from groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Denison said, EPA provided the total picture of information it got and let the public know if some of that information was not reasonably ascertainable or was claimed confidential by the manufacturer or importer.

“That gives us a better sense of the extent and nature of information companies are masking,” Denison said.

In total there were about 33,000 pieces of information that companies reported to EPA, he said. About 16 percent of that information was claimed to be confidential, Denison said.

According to EPA, companies claimed less information to be confidential. For example, in 2006 companies claimed 9 percent of the names of their chemicals to be confidential, while in the 2012 reports they claimed 3 percent of the identities to be confidential.

David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, told BNA his organization was encouraged by the “large reduction in the number of CBI claims on the chemical name, the intended usage, and if that intended usage includes children.”

TSCA Reform

In releasing the data, Jackson said the information highlights “the clear need for TSCA reform,” but her statement did not explain the reasoning for that conclusion.

Denison said the CDR information shows only a small percentage of the total volume of chemicals in U.S. commerce--only ones made or imported in volumes of 25,000 pounds or more in 2011.

That means people may be exposed to many more chemicals, but EPA has the resources to assess only a handful per year according to a “work plan” the agency released in 2012 that called for the agency to conduct risk assessments of 83 chemicals. (36 CRR 269, 3/5/12).

By Pat Rizzuto  

The 2012 Chemical Data Reporting rule information is available at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/cdr/pubs/guidance/cdr_factsheets.html.

Request Environment & Energy Report