RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will institute a new policy that will help consumers figure out what exactly is in the household products they use. "Assuring the safety of chemicals is one of Administrator Jackson's top priorities for EPA's future," says Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "The American people are entitled to transparent, accessible information on chemicals that may pose a risk to their health or the environment."
THE DETAILS: For years, companies have been able to file a secrecy claim called Confidential Business Information, or CBI, in order to avoid identifying chemicals used in a particular product. EPA's decision to stop honoring CBI claims from industry will apply to chemicals that studies have shown pose a substantial risk to people's health and the environment, and that have been previously disclosed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Inventory.
Under TSCA, companies may claim a range of sensitive, proprietary information as CBI. However, under another section of the law, companies that manufacture, process, or distribute chemicals are required to immediately provide notice to EPA if they learn that a chemical presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment. This information is then made public. But until last week, companies could bypass this step by filing a CBI claim. In the coming months, EPA says it intends to announce additional steps to further increase transparency of chemical information. Congress is also working on updating TSCA to better protect today's consumers.