CHE Cafe call: Chemical Policy: Recent Developments and Controversies: A Discussion with Richard Denison, PhD

February 14, 2013
12:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Presentation Slides

Chemical Policy: Recent Developments and Controversies

Additional Resources

Ten Essential Elements in TSCA Reform, by Richard Denison

Safe Chemicals Act: What It Would Do

In July 2012, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee voted to approve the Safe Chemicals Act, a major update of TSCA.

The legislation would provide strong protections for public health and the environment, while not substantially increasing the burdens on regulated industry. The bill was introduced by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), and garnered 29 cosponsors in the 112th Congress.

Among the bill’s key provisions:

  • Industry would bear the legal burden of proving its chemicals are safe. Under the current law, the government must prove harm to health before being able to regulate a chemical.
  • Information on the health and environmental impacts of chemicals would be developed by companies and disclosed to the public.
  • Industry would have to immediately reduce exposure to chemicals of greatest concern, including those that are toxic, persist in the environment, and build up in people.
  • Companies would have to prove that any information kept secret is a legitimate trade secret. Unless resubstantiated, most such confidentiality claims would expire after five years.

Two factsheets on the major changes made to the bill since its April 2011 introduction:

Listen to Recording

Chemical policy—the overall regulation of industrial chemicals to identify and control known or suspected hazards to human health and to promote safer, more sustainable solutions to their manufacture and marketing—goes to the heart of CHE's mission. Dr. Richard Denison, longtime senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, is widely acknowledged as one of the leading experts on all aspects of chemical policy. In this wide-ranging discussion we explored developments in the United State's efforts to update and improve the Toxic Substances Control Act, the state of chemical policy reform elsewhere including Europe's REACH policy, and much more.

Featured Speaker

Richard Denison, PhD, has 28 years of experience in the environmental arena, specializing in policy, hazard and risk assessment and management for industrial chemicals and nanomaterials. Dr. Denison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Standing Committee on Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. Until recently, he was on the NAS Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. He serves on the Green Ribbon Science Panel for California’s Green Chemistry Initiative.

Dr. Denison has testified before various congressional committees on the need for fundamental reform of US policy toward industrial chemicals and on nanomaterial safety research needs. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee to Develop a Research Strategy for Environmental, Health and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials. He was a member of EDF’s team that worked jointly with the DuPont Corporation to develop a framework governing responsible development, production, use and disposal of nanoscale materials. Dr. Denison is a frequent contributor to EDF's Chemicals and Nanomaterials blog, where he posts both commentary and detailed analyses of the emerging science and policies affecting chemicals and nanomaterials in the US internationally.

The call was moderated by Steve Heilig, MPH, CHE director of Public Health & Education, and director of Public Health & Education, San Francisco Medical Society. Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, CHE science director, and science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network and coordinator of CHE's Science Working Group provided a brief science update at the beginning of the call.