Quality Data: An Essential Element of Chemical Safety

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

Good decisions start with good information. As we work through the process to evaluate any potential risks from chemicals in the marketplace, it’s critical that we have high-quality, robust data on these chemicals. This information is the foundation for our risk evaluations and will ultimately guide our decisions about the risks to public health and the environment and the actions we’ll take to reduce those risks.

Getting good data doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s a partnership between EPA and our stakeholders. Investing in data gathering can have short- and long-term returns for everyone involved. For example, without the needed data, we may have to default to estimates or modeling that don’t accurately reflect the real-world use of and exposure to a chemical. But, the more we know about a chemical, the better our analysis and decision-making will be, ultimately resulting in better protections for public health and the environment.

TSCA also recognizes that gathering good data is a partnership. The Lautenberg Act amendments to TSCA expanded our authority to obtain information from chemical manufacturers and processors to fill data gaps in our risk evaluations.

As we look to evaluating the risks for the next 20 chemicals, we’ll be open to using all the tools TSCA provides for data gathering, including issuing test orders. It also means that we will only use tools like test orders when necessary to provide the information needed to adequately conduct a risk evaluation. We’re also committed to engaging with companies and other stakeholders throughout the process, to strengthen our partnerships.

Data is power. Strong data allows us to zero in on the true risks of a chemical and makes the risk evaluation process more durable now and into the future. As we continue to build the processes, policies, and resources to review the more than 40,000 chemicals currently in the marketplace, we will continue to focus on collecting data in a way that’s transparent, reasonable, and, most importantly, protects public health and the environment.

For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/data-development-and-information-collection-assess-risks.

 

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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