EPA mandates new chemical testing

“Having this information is essential to improve chemical safety and protect the health of the American people and the environment,” he added.

The rule applies to so-called high-production-volume chemicals, which are defined as chemicals produced or imported into the country in volumes of at least 1 million pounds annually.

The chemicals targeted by EPA in the new rule have broad consumer and industrial uses, the agency said in a summary of the action. The affected products include diphenylmethanone, a consumer products chemical, and a blasting and demolition agent called pentaerythritol tetranitrate, among others.

The chemical industry makes data available under a voluntary EPA initiative called the HPV Challenge Program Chemical List. But EPA said Tuesday that makers of the 19 chemicals the rule covers have failed to provide the information voluntarily, and that more testing mandates for other chemicals are in the offing.

“Companies voluntarily supplied data on more than 2,200 HPV chemicals under the challenge program; however, no health and environmental effects data was provided on the 19 chemicals in the rule, making it necessary for EPA to require testing. In the coming year, EPA intends to require testing of other chemicals for which the agency has not received data,” EPA said in a statement Tuesday.

EPA has pushed Congress to bolster its powers to control dangerous chemicals by updating TSCA, which was first enacted in the mid-1970s.

“[O]ver the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it is intended to regulate, it has also proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a testimony submitted for a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing last year.

She noted, for instance, that the law doesn’t give the agency enough power to reevaluate existing chemicals as concerns arise. Jackson also said that under existing law, “It has also proven difficult in some cases to take action to limit or ban chemicals found to cause unreasonable risks to human health or the environment.”