Chemistry Council Makes Safety Code Compliance Mandatory for Membership

By Pat Rizzuto

The American Chemistry Council will unveil May 6 a new Product Safety Code outlining best practices that member companies must follow to help ensure the safe development and use of chemicals.

ACC members will have to comply with the code and “adherence with those practices will be mandatory and regularly verified by independent auditors,” according to ACC's announcement.

Under the Product Safety Code, each ACC member company will pledge to implement 11 practices to ensure the safety of the chemicals they make. These practices include undertaking toxicity and other studies of products, sharing information along the supply chain, and taking corrective measures--including terminating business relationships if necessary--should improper chemical use be discovered.

Giving the Environmental Protection Agency greater authority to obtain data to review and manage chemicals through an updated Toxic Substances Control Act still is needed, Debra Phillips, managing director of ACC's Responsible Care® program, told BNA May 3.

The council hopes the commitment its members make--a pledge that will be verified by auditors--will complement a modernization of TSCA, Phillips said.

She said she hopes that together the private sector effort and updated federal chemicals statute would provide companies throughout the supply chain as well as state officials and consumers greater confidence in industry's and government's oversight of chemicals.

Focus on Stewardship Principles

Many ideas contained in the new Product Safety Code already are embodied in principles found throughout the 25-year-old Responsible Care® stewardship program, which already is a condition of ACC membership, Phillips said.

Nonetheless, a seven-member advisory board ACC convened in 2009 urged the council pull out the product safety components into a specific commitment, she said. That advisory board consisted of customers, academics, government agencies, and labor and environmental health organizations.

Pulling the product safety components of Responsible Care® into a single code will allow ACC to provide its members additional details about specific actions they could take to demonstrate their commitment to safety, to communicating information, and to tracking new scientific developments that could affect safety, Phillips said.

Company executives also understand the concept of complying with a code, she said.

ACC members thought a code would help them ensure, internally, that their chief executive officers and other managers would understand that fulfilling commitments the company made was a corporate-wide responsibility, not just something for designated environmental, health, and safety managers, Phillips said.

Companies Urged to Offer Specifics

The practices translate into specific questions a chemical manufacturer should expect to answer during audits, Phillips said.

Auditors would be expected to ask ACC members whether the chemicals they make are used in products that children use and, if so, what tests they have done or what test data they have reviewed from their customers to understand whether the chemicals would be released from the product and at what levels, she said.

Companies should expect auditors to ask for details about toxicity tests the manufacturer has done, Phillips said.

An auditor would be expected to evaluate whether a chemical manufacturer has a process to ensure that its sales and marketing information tells the product safety team about new uses of a chemical, she said.

There should be a system in place, whether in-house or through a contractor, to track new scientific information that could affect a company's conclusions about the safety of a chemical or determine which specific uses may raise concerns, Phillips said.

In ACC's announcement, Council President Cal Dooley said: “The Product Safety Code champions transparency, accountability, and science-based product development and improvement, to give consumers added confidence in the safety of the products they use every day.”

By Pat Rizzuto  

ACC's Product Safety Code will be available as of May 6 at