More Chemical Reactions

Sept. 16, 2010
Is TSCA reform a benefit for manufacturers or a burden?

Could reforming a decades-old U.S. toxic substances law actually help manufacturers? In September, IW published an article entitled "Chemical Reactions" that discussed how proposed changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) could impact manufacturers. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have expressed concerns that the proposed law as it is currently written would place unnecessary, time-consuming burdens on the chemicals industry.

Following the September article, Richard Denison, senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, remarked in an e-mail to IW that NAM and ACC don't speak for the entire business community and that some manufacturers support the measure. Denison testified on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund during a July 29 Congressional hearing on TSCA reform. Also testifying at the hearing was Howard Williams, vice president and general manager of Construction Specialties Inc.'s Pennsylvania division. The privately held construction materials manufacturer with revenues of $300 million could gain a competitive advantage "in an increasing green building product market" by knowing what's in the chemical composition of its products, said Williams during the July 29 hearing.

Construction Specialties is among a handful of manufacturers listed as endorsers of nonprofit environmental organization Business NGO-Working Group's chemical policy agenda. Business NGO published a report that contends TSCA reform would level the playing field for chemicals producers by requiring existing chemicals to meet the same testing requirements as new chemicals. It also could lower expenses related to chemically induced employee illnesses; increase trust among consumers, employees, communities and investors; and improve transparency throughout the supply chain, the report states.

ACC has said it supports a reform measure but that certain aspects of the bill could harm manufacturers. ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley has questioned the safety standard in the bill, how it treats new chemical innovations and the bill's approach to the safety of imported products. Likewise, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), which represents about 240 consumer-products manufacturers, says it supports TSCA reforms but has called into question certain aspects of the bill. Among CSPA's concerns is the proposed safety standard that would require the EPA to determine "a reasonable certainty of no harm," which CSPA says would be unattainable.

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