Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

US chemistry policy might get greener, sooner

I reported a series some time ago about "green chemistry" - a loosely defined term for reforms promoted by environmentalists aimed at clarifying for the public what the hell the chemicals do, and minimizing human exposure to stuff that's toxic or carcinogenic.

Now the Washington Post reports Senator Frank Lautenberg's going to introduce legislation to change up the way the federal government manages chemicals.

The idea is that chemical manufacturers would be on the hook for showing that their products are safe for human exposure BEFORE the chemicals make their way into products that people might, you know, get exposed to. And chemical manufacturers would have to give the EPA health and safety data they've (in some cases) never handed over before.

Lautenberg told the Post:

We're saying those who make the chemicals -- and there are 700 new ones that come to market each year -- ought to be responsible for testing them first before they're released to the public, instead of having the EPA play detective to search and try to find problems.

The chemical industry has long argued that handing over more information about chemicals would violate companies' intellectual property rights. But several states, among them California, have stepped up efforts to improve how the government manages chemicals. That's put pressure on both the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the chemical lobby to make One Policy To Rule Them All. Cause that's easier than fifty.

The Post also reports Westside Representative Henry Waxman may introduce companion legislation in the House.