On August 7, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has completed the review of over 600 new chemicals that were queuing for approval when the agency’s new administrator Scott Pruitt was confirmed in February 2017. In June 2016, the U.S. chemicals regulation, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was amended by the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act (LCSA) (FPF reported). The new law requires EPA to “make an affirmative safety determination before a new chemical can come to market.” Since then, the number of new chemicals approved by EPA had decreased (FPF reported). Pruitt stated that the “EPA can either be a roadblock to new products, or it can be supporter of innovation and ever-improving chemical safety.” Therefore, Pruitt committed to ensuring “a new chemicals program that is both protective of human health and the environment, while also being supportive of bringing new chemicals to market.” The EPA intends to take various measures to strengthen and improve the review process of new chemicals and increase transparency in decision-making.

The non-profit organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) expressed concern over the EPA’s intentions. Richard Denison, lead senior scientist of EDF, commented that “EPA is moving away from the law’s clear requirements” which “undercuts public confidence in EPA’s implementation of the reformed law.” The industry group American Chemistry Council (ACC) commended the EPA for “addressing the backlog of applications for new chemicals.” The ACC further stated that it strongly supports the EPA’s “commitment to a more predictable and transparent process for decision-making and look forward to continued collaboration in achieving these improvements.”

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EPA (August 7, 2017). “EPA eliminates new-chemical backlog, announces improvements to new chemical safety reviews.

Richard Denison (August 7, 2017). “EPA’s announced changes to new chemicals review process put industry demands for ready market access above public health protection.EDF Health

ACC (August 7, 2017). “ACC commends EPA for addressing the backlog of pending pre-manufacturing notices.

Devin Henry (August 7, 2017). “EPA completes review of chemical approval backlog.The Hill

Kelly Franklin (August 8, 2017). “U.S. EPA announces end of PMN backlog.Chemical Watch

Lorraine Chow (August 8, 2017). “‘Industry friendly’ EPA completes review of 600 new chemicals.EcoWatch