Chemical Information Act Needed
Currently, there are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, 1,400 of them considered high-production-volume chemicals, yet data on human exposure exists for only six percent. Of the 58 million pounds of chemicals reportedly released annually in the state of California, scientists are able to track less than 10% of these chemicals as they find their way into the air we breathe, water we drink, and our bodies.
For a large portion, perhaps even most chemicals in current use, we do not have full safety data on how it may impacts health or their environmental fate or if we need to take precautionary action.
This lack of data represents one of the fundamental failures in how chemicals are regulated. Comprehensive chemical data that includes the fate of chemicals in our air, water and soil could provide a greater incentive for choosing safer alternatives. By filling these data gaps we could create market incentives for the chemical industry to produce safer chemicals. Under the current system
California labs within the Department of Health Services, Department of Toxics Substances Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Air Resources Board must develop and test analytical methods for chemicals falling under their jurisdiction. Developing these methods can take a significant amount of time and cost between $20,000 and $200,000 per chemical, per medium for each medium such as air, water, and soil. This indicates that it could cost the state up to $1 million to develop lab methods for all media, for just one chemical. The costs of producing these methods should be the responsibility of the chemical manufacturers and not on the tax paying public.
In order to protect human health and the environment, we must be able to prioritize which chemicals to regulate and target. For exposure reductions we need the development of these testing methods. California is leading the nation in promoting policy proposals that will fill these dangerous data gaps in the form of AB 289. This bill authored by Wilma Chan and co sponsored by California Communities against Toxics and Environment California will give California Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health Service the ability to request this data from chemical producers.