EDF: Agency Proposals a Mixed Bag for ChAMP

According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed one good and one bad "enhancement" to its Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) during a public meeting on Dec. 8.

EDF, a nonprofit organization, welcomed the agency's proposal to require pre-manufacture notification for any chemical removed from the nation's list of chemicals in commerce if a company decides to reintroduce it into the market. But the group strongly criticized a second proposal to extend a poorly performing voluntary program for obtaining critical chemical safety information to inorganic chemicals produced in high volumes.

The latter proposal would initiate another "phased, multi-year" voluntary program for high-production-volume (HPV) inorganic chemicals.

"We know from the failure of both EPA's HPV Challenge and the industry's half-hearted Extended HPV Program to deliver the quality data sets needed to make sound decisions that a voluntary approach doesn't work," said Richard A. Denison, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EDF, who until recently was a member of the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee (NPPTAC) that advises EPA's toxics office. "To extend such a flawed model to inorganic chemicals is simply throwing good money after bad."

Despite a decade of effort under the HPV Challenge, final data sets have yet to be submitted for nearly half of the chemicals sponsored, and remaining gaps have been identified in at least a third of those data sets that have been submitted. Several hundred HPV chemicals were not sponsored at all under the program. And since the launch of the Challenge, many hundreds of additional chemicals have reached HPV production levels, yet most of those have not been sponsored under the Extended HPV program, and data sets have been submitted for fewer than two dozen. (See EDF's recent report on the HPV Challenge and Extended HPV Program, High Hopes, Low Marks, available at www.edf.org/hpvreportcard.)

The nonprofit urged EPA to immediately proceed to issue mandatory test rules using its TSCA Section 4 authority for as many inorganic HPV chemicals as possible. Only for those chemicals for which it cannot make the requisite findings to support a test rule should EPA consider other approaches, including vigorously supporting an expansion of its data generation authorities through legislative reform of TSCA.