Increasing Innovation and Access to Information on New Chemicals

Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Innovation is essential to our everyday lives. It allows our economy to grow and thrive. It creates efficiencies and increased value for businesses. And, for all of us, a lot of products like smart phones, detergents, and automobiles keep getting better because companies develop new chemical substances that improve the performance of materials and products.

In the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, part of our job is working with stakeholders to bring new chemistries to market in a way that balances the safety of public health and the environment without stifling innovation and ensuring the right level of information transparency. We are committed to providing the public with information on chemicals, including how they are used, any potential risks, and steps we’re taking to prevent those risks. Over the past year, we’ve taken unprecedented steps to ensure we’re meeting our legal requirements while increasing the amount of information made publicly available on new chemicals.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – our nation’s primary chemical management law – we’re required to review and decide on new chemical submissions within 90 days of receipt. TSCA gave us an aggressive goal to strive towards, and I’m proud to say we’re making great progress. Our new chemicals statistics reflect a significant improvement from just one year ago:

  • 38% decrease in cases over 180 days (229 current; 370 one year ago)
  • 76% decrease in cases over 90 days (32 current; 131 one year ago)

We have worked diligently to improve the quality and quantity of chemical information shared with and available to the public, including posting all new chemical determinations on our website, developing a new status tracker for individual cases, and implementing process changes to expedite the publishing of information related to new chemical notices.

Starting in May 2019, we began new chemicals submissions in EPA’s ChemView tool. This includes the original submission and any updates and attachments submitted to EPA, including health and safety studies, safety data sheets, and confidential business information (CBI) substantiation documents. We have committed to publishing the submissions within 45 days of receipt and have consistently done so since May 30, 2019.

We’re also working hard to ensure that the information companies claim as CBI meets the legal criteria laid out in TSCA. This is an important issue because we’re legally obligated to keep some information confidential, and we must ensure that we’re complying with those requirements. Last December, we published information on all the final CBI determinations we’ve made under TSCA and committed to updating this information quarterly. The information on CBI determinations published in December 2019, included the results of CBI determinations on 262 new chemicals submissions.

I’m proud of the work our dedicated expert staff have done to enhance transparency around our processes for approving new chemicals. More information is available online on new chemicals today than ever before, and it’s our goal to continue to improve processes, increase efficiency, and keep this trend going.

Learn more about our new chemicals program at https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca.

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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