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EPA Overturns Chemical Confidentiality

January 21, 2010 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today it is implementing a new policy designed to increase the public’s access to information on chemicals. The policy rejects a certain type of confidentiality claim, known as Confidential Business Information (CBI), on the identity of chemicals.

The chemicals that will be affected by this action are those that are submitted to the EPA with studies that show a substantial risk to people's health and the environment and have been previously disclosed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Inventory. 

"This action represents another step to use the agency’s authority under the existing TSCA to the fullest extent possible, recognizing EPA’s strong belief that the 1976 law is both outdated and in need of reform," according to the EPA press release.

Under TSCA, companies may claim a range of sensitive, proprietary information as CBI. Under Section 8(e) of TSCA, companies that manufacture, process, or distribute chemicals are required to immediately provide notice to the EPA if they learn that a chemical presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment. The Section 8(e) reports are made available on EPA’s Web site.

Until today, however, companies would routinely claim confidentiality for the actual identity of the chemical covered by the Section 8(e) submission, so the public posting of the information would not include the name of the chemical. The new policy ends this practice for chemicals on the public portion of the TSCA Inventory.

This new policy will grant the public access to the chemical identification information submitted along with other health and safety data under Section 8(e). 

EPA’s new policy on TSCA Section 8(e) submissions is being published in the Federal Register and, in the coming months, the EPA says it intends to announce additional steps to further increase transparency of chemical information.   

For more information on the new policy, visit www.epa.gov/oppt/tsca8e.  

For more information on EPA’s principles for comprehensive TSCA reform,  visit www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/principles.html  


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