SOCMA Responds to Washington Post Article on CBI Claims

SOCMA has responded to a recent article in the Washington Post, “Use of potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under law,” with the following letter:

Dear Editor:

In response to the article "Use of potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under law," SOCMA would like to clarify some important points. While it is true that there are roughly 84,000 chemicals in EPA's inventory, far fewer are currently in commercial use and many chemicals on record are no longer being made. To better understand how many chemicals are in commerce at any given time, EPA produces a snapshot using its Inventory Update Rule every five years. In 2006, only 6,200 chemicals were reported as currently in use.

When reporting this required information, chemical manufacturers are also required to determine if the information needs to be claimed confidential to protect their proprietary interests. SOCMA agrees that there is overuse of confidentiality claims and that Congress should consider this when updating the regulation. Additionally, the public should be aware that while specific chemicals may be claimed as confidential, a generic chemical name must be provided and health and safety information cannot be claimed confidential.

One pragmatic first step toward improving TSCA would be to narrow the universe of chemicals by resetting the inventory. SOCMA shares the belief with many stakeholders that there are many challenges in modernizing US chemicals policy. We agree that Congress needs to conduct a thorough review of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to assess whether it is meeting the mandates set for it more than 30 years ago.