EPA's Safety Assessment of Substitutes for Ozone-Depleting Chemicals and Legal Issues Relating to CFC and Halon Production Rights

T-RCED-89-45: Published: May 19, 1989. Publicly Released: May 19, 1989.

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GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safety assessment of substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. GAO found that: (1) in response to international efforts to cut or eliminate production of ozone-depleting chemicals, chemical producers were working to develop CFC substitutes both individually and as part of two international joint testing programs; (2) EPA has statutory responsibility to ensure that chemical substitutes do not pose unreasonable risks to human health and the environment; (3) EPA adequately assessed new chemicals intended as potential CFC substitutes through its normal premanufacture notification process; (4) EPA improved its approach for reviewing chemicals already listed in its chemical inventory by requiring producers to provide their unpublished health and safety studies on potential substitutes, in addition to their published data; (5) some manufacturers have not complied with EPA reporting requirements; and (6) EPA did not require producers to report significant new uses of existing chemicals intended as CFC substitutes, thereby allowing anyone to produce any amount of any existing chemical for any use, without prior notification to EPA. GAO also found that EPA is considering economic measures to capture windfall profits that CFC production limits might create, but it was difficult to determine whether EPA had authority to use such measures before it made its proposal.

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