Despite objections from the coatings and chemical industries, the Environmental Protection Agency will increase the type and amount of information it collects on commercial chemicals from chemical manufacturers, under a new rule issued this week.
The final Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule, released Tuesday, renames and amends the reporting requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Update Reporting Modifications (IUR) rule.
The measure requires manufacturers and importers of certain chemical substances listed on the TSCA Chemical Substances Inventory to report information about the manufacturing, import, processing and use of those substances.
More Reports, Less Confidentiality
The final CDR rule—issued after a summer-long reporting reprieve—returns the frequency of reporting to once every four years (instead of five years, a change made in 2003), modifies reporting thresholds, updates definitions and revises industrial classifications.
Under TSCA, companies that manufacture or import any of about 83,000 chemicals are required to report data on how they use, process or manufacture those chemicals.
The rule applies to substances produced in volumes of 25,000 pounds or more during the principal reporting year.
American Coatings Association
|Coatings makers called the reporting proposal problematic, unwarranted, unrealistic and difficult.|
The rule requires, for the first time, that companies submit the information to EPA electronically, rather than on paper, and strictly limits confidentiality claims by companies.
Confidentiality protections were weakened considerably in June, when EPA issued an order releasing the identities of more than 150 chemicals that the coatings, chemicals and other industries had held confidential. The EPA’s action followed its year-long effort to have the American Coatings Association, American Chemical Society and others release more chemical information voluntarily.
Risk Prevention Cited
EPA says the new rule will provide better information for the agency to identify and address risks associated with chemical substances. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said she wants to strengthen the agency’s chemical management program and increase the transparency of critical information on chemicals.
“Collecting this critical information on widely used chemicals will enable EPA to more effectively identify and address potential chemical risks,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
“The new electronic reporting requirement and limits on confidentiality claims also will bring EPA’s data collection effort into the 21st century and give the American people greater access to a wider range of information on chemicals to which their children and families are exposed every day.”
The online reporting tools are being developed now.
Coatings Industry Concerns
The measure covers many chemicals used in making coatings, and the proposal issued in August 2010 drew widespread criticism from coatings and chemical companies, the American Coatings Association, the American Chemistry Council and the National Association of Manufacturers during the comment period last fall. Most called the proposal too broad and its deadlines too tight.
Said AkzoNobel, the world’s largest paint and coatings company: “Under the current proposal, EPA has not provided a sufficiently reasonable amount of time to plan, let alone execute, the significant changes in data requirements that have been proposed.”
The company added: “Akzo Nobel supports the need for EPA to improve the IUR program to obtain appropriate use and exposure information for risk assessment purposes. However, EPA should narrow the focus to a specific subset of chemicals about which EPA has concern. … Manufacturers often sell hundreds of substances in thousands of products to thousands of downstream users. … Manufacturers do not know all of their distributors’ customers…”
The National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 11,000 manufacturers across multiple industries, said the rule would impact “many sectors of the manufacturing economy.” NAM added: “In general, manufacturers are concerned about the timing and broad scope of the proposed rule.”
Lowering the reporting threshold to 25,000 pounds annually “will significantly increase the number of chemicals which companies need to provide expand use and exposure information,” causing a “significant impact on small companies,” NAM said.
The American Coatings Association said in a detailed, seven-page critique that the industry “faces considerable business impacts” from the proposal and described various provisions as “problematic,” “unwarranted,” “unrealistic” and “difficult.”
ACA has issued no statement on the final rule.
Implementation and Details
The final rule pushes back the first reporting period, which had been set for this year, to 2012 and defers several requirements until the 2016 reporting period.
Exemptions and more details are spelled out in an EPA fact sheet on the rule.
In addition, the CDR Web site contains program updates, announcements and guidance materials for 2012 reporting. To access the docket (Docket Control number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2009-0187) for the final rule, visit http://www.regulations.gov.