Natural Resources and Environment:
EPA's Safety Assessment of Substitutes for Ozone-Depleting Chemicals and Legal Issues Relating to CFC and Halon Production Rights
T-RCED-89-41, May 15, 1989
GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safety assessment of chemicals being developed as substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons, halons, and other ozone-depleting chemicals. GAO noted that: (1) about 80 countries signed an international agreement to significantly cut, halt, or freeze production levels of ozone-depleting chemicals over the next 10 years; (2) although manufacturers individually tested chemical substitutes and cooperated with international testing programs, EPA did not fully use its authority to assess the safety or regulate the use of the substitutes; (3) the EPA approach for assessing the safety of newly developed chemical substitutes followed its normal premanufacture notification process required by law; (4) the EPA approach for assessing the safety of chemicals already listed in its chemical substance inventory was still evolving, and EPA was only requiring an internal assessment of published and unpublished health and safety data; (5) some manufacturers did not comply with the EPA requirement that they regularly supply health and safety data; and (6) EPA continues to allow anyone to produce any amount of any chemical already in its inventory for any use without notifying it. GAO believes that EPA needs to require manufacturers to notify it of any planned significant new use of existing chemicals so that it can review the safety of those uses and protect public health and the environment.