EPA Takes Some Trade Secret Wraps off of Chemical Identity

January 27, 2010

EPA announced January 21, 2010, that it will reject confidentiality claims by industry for some chemicals that could pose a threat to human health. EPA had reportedly been planning the move for months. But the announcement came soon after the Washington Post reported a study by the Environmental Working Group that showed one-fifth of the 84,000 chemicals in commerce are kept secret.

EPA had previously granted trade-secret claims made by industry under authority given it by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — even in some cases where the chemicals had already been publicly disclosed.

Specifically, EPA said it would reject Confidential Business Information claims on the identity of chemicals submitted to it under TSCA requirements when they "are submitted to EPA with studies that show a substantial risk to people's health and the environment and have been previously disclosed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Inventory."

That apparently means that confidentiality claims will only be rejected in cases where the chemicals have already been disclosed in the TSCA inventory.

Congress, EPA, environmental groups, and industry have been talking about revising TSCA this year.