EPA has taken another step in its effort to curb abuse of "confidential business information" (CBI) claims by companies who put potentially toxic products on the market.
Journalists and citizens who asked what chemicals were in the hundreds of thousands of gallons of Corexit oil dispersant pumped into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP blowout of 2010 were initially told by oil companies and federal agencies that they had no right to know. The secrecy was based on CBI claims by Nalco, the company that made the dispersant. EPA eventually decided that the public's right to know — and possible health and environmental consequences — took precedence over the company's claim.
On June 8, 2011, EPA released the identities of 150 chemicals which had been subject to health and safety studies but withheld from the public under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The chemicals are used in products like oil dispersants, air fresheners, non-stick and stain-resistant materials, fire-resistant materials, nonylphenol compounds, perfluorinated compounds, and lead.
Congress is currently considering a possible overhaul of TSCA, and disclosure of chemicals and their risks will be a key issue.
- "150 Chemicals Are No Longer Incognito," Green (New York Times), June 13, 2011.
- "EPA Removes Confidentiality Claims for More Than 150 Chemicals / Part of continuing effort to protect Americans’ health by increasing access to chemical information," EPA Release of June 8, 2011.