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June 2015

Progress in TSCA Modernization

After years of unsuccessful attempts, Congress is getting closer to achieving modernization of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.  On June 23, 2015, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2576 by a 398-1 vote.  In the meantime, the bipartisan Senate TSCA modernization bill, S.697, is expected to receive floor consideration next month.  If the Senate passes S.697, then a conference committee of the two chambers will work to create a unified bill, which would be sent back to the House and Senate for passage. H.R. 2576 is more narrowly targeted than the Senate bill.  But both bills have encountered resistance on issues of preemption of state law, protection of confidential business information, and standards for EPA regulation of chemicals.  Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is the most vociferous opponent of measures that would dilute states’ rights to regulate chemicals, and introduced her own bill, S.725, in March 2015.  That bill has been …Read More

Controversy Over PFAS and PFOA Chemicals Continue

As both the United States and the European Union consider further restrictions on perfluroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) chemicals and perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts, controversy among scientists and industry continue about how best to regulate these categories of chemicals.  In “The Madrid Statement on Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs),” issued in October 2014 at the Dioxin Symposium in Madrid and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the scientist signatories urge international co-operation among scientists, government and industry to limit the production and use of such chemicals, to develop further information about their toxicity and to develop safer, non-fluorinated alternatives.  In May 2015, FluoroCouncil, representing key companies that manufacture, formulate or process fluorotechnology products,published its counter-argument, “Fluorotechnology Is Critical to Modern Life: The FluoroCouncil Counterpoint to the Madrid Statement.” Modern life relies heavily on the use of fluorochemicals due to their enhancement of functionality and durability of products ranging from airplanes, to automobiles, and cell phones. This category …Read More

EU Supports Restrictions on BPA in Thermal Paper

On June 11, 2015, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) published its support of a French proposal to restrict the use of bisphenol A in thermal paper, such as cashier’s receipts.  The proposal would restrict the placing on the market of thermal paper containing more than 0.02% BPA by weight. The subpopulation of concern is workers, like cashiers, who handle such paper on a regular basis.  The RAC did not conclude that consumers were at risk. The RAC is expected to release its report soon.  In the meantime, ECHA’s Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) will evaluate the proposed BPA restriction in September 2015, with SEAC’s final opinion expected to be released in December 2015.  At that point, both the RAC’s and SEAC’s opinions will be evaluated by the European Commission.

Flame Retardants Still On the Hot Seat

Flame retardant-containing products, particularly in children’s products, continue to attract legislative attention.  Minnesota recently enacted SF 1215, which bans the manufacture or  importation of children’s products and residential upholstered furniture containing more than 1,000 parts per million of the following flame retardants: TDCPP (tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate); TCEP (tris(2-chloroethyl)phosphate); decaBDE (decabromodiphenyl ether); and HBCDD (hexabromocyclododecane). The manufacture and importation ban takes effect on July 1, 2018, with a ban on the sale of such products becoming effective July 1, 2019. Meanwhile the California Senate, with a 30-10 vote, has passed SB 763 which requires permanent labeling of “juvenile products” containing added flame retardants.  The bill builds on: (1) the 2013 amendments on California flammability requirements for furnishings, finalized in  California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117-2013) by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation; and (2) SB 1019,  enacted in 2014 and imposes similar labeling requirements.  (See GLO’s blog …Read More

OSHA Issues Second Enforcement Guidance Document on 2012 HCS

On May 29, 2015, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim enforcement guidance on the new Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requirements, which became effective June 1, 2015, for labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). Supplementing OSHA’s February 2015 enforcement guidance, this guidance document provides OSHA inspectors with discretion to refrain from issuing citations to manufacturers, importers and distributors of chemical mixtures who cannot meet the June 1, 2015 deadline, if specified circumstances exist.  (See GLO’s previous post on the February guidance document.)  The May 2015 guidance also clarifies SDS and labeling obligations for existing stock that is packaged for shipment before June 1, 2015. These two guidance documents will remain in effect as interim guidance until OSHA publishes a formal enforcement directive, which may occur as soon as June 2015. In 2012, OSHA amended the HCS to incorporate provisions of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and …Read More