Toxic Substances:

EPA Should Focus Its Chemical Use Inventory on Suspected Harmful Substances

RCED-95-165: Published: Jul 7, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to develop a Chemical Use Inventory, focusing on the: (1) extent to which agreement exists on the chemicals and data to be included in the inventory; and (2) status of EPA efforts to develop the inventory.

GAO found that: (1) EPA and various other organizations differ on which chemicals should be included in the inventory, the specific types of data that should be obtained, and the source of the data; (2) EPA has proposed collecting general data on chemical use and exposure from chemical manufacturers and importers on about 12,000 chemicals; (3) EPA officials intend to protect legitimate confidential business information contained in the chemical use inventory; and (4) EPA has not decided whether to implement the inventory through the regular federal rulemaking process or through negotiations with interested parties.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In August 1999, EPA proposed in the Federal Register an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Update Rule which would establish a Chemical Use Inventory. According to an official within EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, no further action has been taken, or is currently planned, with regard to publishing a final rule.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Chemical Use Inventory provides the data on chemical use and exposure that EPA and other interested organizations need while at the same time minimizing the data management burden on both the agency and the chemical industry, the Administrator, EPA, should begin with a limited number of those chemicals, perhaps as many as several thousand, that are suspected of presenting the greatest risk to human health and the environment. As information is obtained through the inventory, EPA may need to expand the number of chemicals included and/or substitute other chemicals as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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