Environmental Council of States Offers Recommendations for TSCA Reform

Date: Feb 03, 2010

As introduction of a TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) reform bill becomes more imminent, a "national non-profit, non-partisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders," has offered some recommendations for federal action based on experiences with emerging contaminants in the states. The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) has led discussions among states on issues and concerns regarding chemicals, and issued a report in January 2010. In the "ECOS Green Report" they offer the following recommendations primarily related to how federal agencies can support state activities.

  1. Federal policies need to reverse the prevailing assumption that all chemicals are safe unless proven otherwise. Specifically,
  • The federal government should update other applicable rules to require submission of toxicity data covering a broad suite of toxicity concerns for all chemicals in commerce.
  • Federal policy should fully implement the GHS, including updating MSDSs.
  • Federal policy should integrate the existing chemical information expected to become available through other nations and programs, e.g., REACH, the North American Security & Prosperity Partnership, and the Canadian Chemicals Management Plan.
  • Federal and state governments should promote green chemistry initiatives.

  1. Federal agencies, especially U.S. EPA, need to expand research and facilitate data sharing on emerging contaminants. Specifically,
  • EPA should develop uniform and standardized laboratory methodologies for analyzing specific emerging contaminants.
  • Federal agencies should provide states with human health and ecological data and risk analyses for emerging contaminants.
  • Federal agencies should help states answer questions on cumulative risk.
  • Federal agencies should provide states with data on concentrations of concern in different media and other information that states can use to target monitoring, detection limits, and other regulatory controls.
  • The appropriate federal agencies should synthesize the available information and promulgate acceptable media standards or action levels.
  • The appropriate federal agencies should recognize the diversity of new consumer and personal care products, assess their impacts on human health and the environment, disclose any impacts, and develop a plan to manage those impacts through a coordinated and accessible database management system.

  1. Federal agencies should consider nanomaterials as a special class of emerging contaminant due to the properties, which may make them behave in ways that conventional contaminants do not. Specifically,
  • Federal agencies and ECOS should continue to develop federal and state nano and biotechnology structures to obtain and exchange more detailed risk information from other state organizations, e.g., NAHMMA.
  • Federal agencies should work with ECOS to follow up on next steps identified at the interagency meeting held October 14, 2009.

  1. Federal agencies should help states develop messaging and education materials to communicate risk issues throughout product lifecycles, including disposal. Specifically,
  • Federal and state agencies should promote the use of "green" cleaning and personal care products that reduce the use of harmful chemicals in the environment.
  • Federal agencies should develop consistent messaging regarding the proper disposal of unused medications and take other actions to facilitate disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals.
  • Federal and state agencies should evaluate sources of unwanted pharmaceuticals and develop guidance to facilitate proper disposal.

  1. Increase federal funding for states' assessment of emerging waste problems and potential solutions. Specifically,
  • The federal government should provide financial and staff support to the states for sample collection and method development.

The ECOS report also includes a series of case studies of chemical control related activities in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. The report also includes a Prioritization Tool that ECOS developed and released in December 2009 to identify and prioritize contaminants of emerging concern.

The ECOS report is available on the ECOS web site (http://www.ecos.org/) and can be found at: http://www.ecos.org/files/3959_file_January_2010_ECOS_Green_Report.pdf

For up-to-the-minute coverage of TSCA reform, please visit http://tsca-reform.com.