Environmentalists, Industry To Test Common Chemicals

In a unique example of cooperation between industry and environmentalists, the Chemical Manufacturers Assn. and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have agreed to undertake a voluntary six-year program to test some 2,800 high-production industrial chemicals for their health and environmental effects. The program, announced in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), covers chemicals manufactured in volumes of 1 million pounds a year or more that are used in such consumer products as commercial detergents, electronics, appliances, paper products, and building materials. The testing, which will cost the chemical industry an estimated $500 million to $700 million, is due to be completed by the year 2004. After that the EPA may order tests for chemicals that have not been volunteered. The program follows a 1997 study by EDF showing that most high-volume industrial chemicals in the U.S. lack basic health-screening tests. The study prompted Vice President Gore to call on the chemical industry to develop an accelerated testing plan.

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