According to reports, lobbyists in the chemical industry are “satisfied” and “optimistic” about the US Environmental Protection Agency (Environmental Protection Agency) implementing the new regulations of the country’s major chemical safety laws.

Of course.

These days, the chemical industry has good reason for the high sentiment. Under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s EPA is a boon to the industry. The Trump administration has been appointing people close to the industry to key energy and environmental positions in the first six months after taking office.

Last week, Trump announced his intention to nominate Michael Dourson as the director of the agency’s Office of Chemicals and Pesticides. Duson’s history of working with industry to disrupt chemical regulations is disturbing. If the Senate approves the nomination, he will work with Nancy Beck, who is a former head of the American Chemistry Council. We call Baker “the scariest person in Trump’s appointment you have never heard of”-at least until Duson is confirmed.

The chemical industry has received sympathy within the EPA, especially with regard to the implementation of the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was substantially revised last year. Especially important is how the EPA will select and evaluate the safety of chemicals.

These regulations were put forward in January of this year shortly before Trump took office, and they were basically praised by public health and environmental advocates. However, most of the comments made by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the industry’s largest trade association, were opposed. The final rules published in the Federal Register last week have many major changes that benefit industry. The following are some of the factors that have the greatest impact on chemical safety.
Excluded important sources of chemical exposure in the EPA’s safety assessment

In response to the opinions of the ACC and other chemical industries, the US Environmental Protection Agency has given its own discretion to exclude important sources of chemical exposure from safety assessments. This is important because people are exposed to chemicals in various ways.

Everyone is exposed to some chemicals from consumer products, food, dust, drinking water, and air pollution, but some people have unique exposure risks, such as workers who manufacture and process chemicals. The use of some chemical substances has been basically eliminated, but people are still exposed to the air through so-called legacy uses. Generally, people are exposed to the same or similar chemicals from multiple sources. The law requires the Environmental Protection Agency to consider all these different sources of exposure and the different groups of people that may be affected when determining the safety of a chemical.

When the EPA issued this proposed rule in January this year, it acknowledged this requirement, stating that “risk assessment must include all production, processing, commercial circulation, use, and disposal activities…that is, all known and expected Reasonable and predictable activities.” The Environmental Protection Agency stated that it did not explain the regulation and gave it “the permission to choose among the conditions of use”.

ACC doesn’t like this method. ACC stated in its comments that viewing all these sources of exposure would “lead to a ridiculous result.” ACC also produced a detailed list of uses that it hopes to exclude from most risk assessments. These include the use of so-called non-Toxic Substances Control Act chemicals under other laws or through other agencies, workers’ exposure as prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and low-exposure use.

When the EPA announced the final rule, it changed course, stating that after re-evaluating the proposal, it will only allow risk assessments on a subset of uses and exposures. According to ACC’s recommendations, EPA also decided that it has the right to exclude certain uses regulated by other agencies, intentional abuse, and low-touch use. The most disturbing thing is that the final regulations usually exclude the legacy use and disposal of chemicals that are no longer on the market. This is a serious problem, because after they are determined to be dangerous, they are usually phased out of use, but chemicals can exist in the environment for generations.

Pay more attention to giving the green light to chemicals instead of regulating them

The new “Toxic Substances Control Law” requires the Environmental Protection Agency to list chemicals as low or high priority. “Low priority” is actually a safety mark. On the other hand, high-priority chemicals may pose risks to public health or the environment, and EPA must evaluate their safety.

Since low-priority chemicals will not undergo rigorous analysis and will not be regulated, the law sets high standards. A chemical will only be assigned a low priority if there is enough information to be sure that it is safe. Because this should be a strict standard, the EPA explained in the proposed rule that most chemicals are considered priority by default.