Chemical Regulation: Actions are Needed to Improve the Effectiveness of EPA's Chemical Review Program Page: 4 of 18
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production volumes, and any test data possessed by the chemical
My testimony today, which is based on our June 2005 report, Chemical
Regulation: Options Exist to Improve EPA's Ability to Assess Health
Risks and Manage Its Chemical Review Program,' describes EPA's
efforts to (1) assess existing chemicals used in commerce, (2) control the
risks of new chemicals not yet in commerce, and (3) publicly disclose
information provided by chemical companies under TSCA.
In summary, EPA does not routinely assess the human health and
environmental risks of existing chemicals and faces challenges in
obtaining the information necessary to do so. TSCA's authorities for
collecting data on existing chemicals do not facilitate EPA's review
process because they generally place the costly and time-consuming
burden of obtaining data on EPA, rather than requiring chemical
companies to develop and submit such data to EPA. Consequently, EPA
has used its authorities to require testing for fewer than 200 of the 62,000
chemicals in commerce when EPA began reviewing chemicals under
TSCA in 1979. Recognizing the need for additional information on existing
chemicals, in the late 1990s EPA implemented its High Production Volume
(HPV) Challenge Program, under which chemical companies have begun
to voluntarily provide test data on about 2,800 chemicals produced or
imported in amounts of 1 million pounds or more a year. While the HPV
Challenge Program is a laudable effort to develop data on these chemicals,
several problems remain, including that the chemical industry has not
agreed to provide testing for over 200 chemicals originally identified in the
HPV Challenge Program and that even with the test data provided under
the program, EPA would need to demonstrate that the chemicals pose
unreasonable risks in order to control their production or use under TSCA.
While TSCA does not define what risk is unreasonable, according to EPA
officials the standard has been difficult to meet. In order to withstand
judicial scrutiny, a TSCA rule must be supported by substantial evidence
in the rulemaking record. In this regard, EPA officials say the act's legal
standards are so high that they have generally discouraged EPA from using
its authorities to ban or restrict the manufacture or use of chemicals. Since
Congress enacted TSCA in 1976, EPA has issued regulations under the act
1 GAO, Chemical Regulation: Options Exist to Improve EPA's Ability to Assess Health
Risks and Manage Its Chemical Review Program, GAO-05-458 (Washington, D.C.: June 13,
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Chemical Regulation: Actions are Needed to Improve the Effectiveness of EPA's Chemical Review Program, text, August 2, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294167/m1/4/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.