EPA Moving Towards New Rules for Chemical Regulation

GoodGuide users are concerned about the environmental and health impacts of chemicals used in consumer products. Unfortunately, many chemicals on the market have not been tested thoroughly for their safety. This is largely due to the antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which makes it nearly impossible for regulators to step in, even when chemicals are shown to be risky.

Last week, Lisa Jackson, the new Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, gave a surprising speech. Previously, experts had thought that the Obama Administration wasn’t prioritizing chemicals reform. At the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Ms. Jackson noted that children’s bodies contain higher levels of chemicals that may harm their development. She lamented,

Not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate – it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.

Ms. Jackson called for six new principles to drive the EPA’s overhaul of US chemical regulation. One that’s particularly relevant to GoodGuide is greater transparency:

Manufacturers must develop and submit the hazard, use, and exposure data demonstrating that new and existing chemicals are safe.

The EPA now intends to develop new tools to require manufacturers to disclose this information if they don’t do so voluntarily. While we’re excited about the new policy, we believe that companies shouldn’t wait for EPA or Congress to require this. They should immediately start disclosing, candidly, what their products contain if they want consumers to trust in them.

To see a more detailed blog critique, visit here.

This post was written by Professor Alastair Iles is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Iles studies science, technology, and environment, with a focus on how technologies – ranging from chemistry, energy systems, environmental health monitoring, to information technology – affect society and the environment. He received his PhD in Environmental Law and Policy from Harvard University, and previously studied Law at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

About Dara O'Rourke

Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and Co-Founder of GoodGuide.
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