American Chemistry Council: Chemistry businesses volunteer for EPA pilot program on children's health

More than 35 chemical companies will voluntarily conduct product evaluations as part of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pilot program to assess chemicals for potential effects on children, the American Chemistry Council announced today.

ARLINGTON, VA, June 26, 2001 — More than 35 chemical companies will voluntarily conduct product evaluations as part of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pilot program to assess chemicals for potential effects on children, the American Chemistry Council announced today.

Known as the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP), the pilot will test a new approach to chemical evaluation, an approach EPA considers a potential model for future assessments. EPA announced the program in the December 26, 2000, Federal Register.

"This represents an industry-wide commitment to work in partnership with government and other stakeholders to better understand the relationship between chemistry and public health," said Fred Webber, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. "By stepping up to the plate - by dedicating substantial scientific and financial resources - these companies are making commitments that go above and beyond the law, even beyond commitments called for under the industry's own nationally recognized Responsible Care�initiative."

EPA's VCCEP is the culmination of a multi-stakeholder process initiated by EPA, a process that included active participation by the American Chemistry Council, other industry organizations, environmental groups, children's health advocates and others.

"This is an excellent example of how government, industry and other stakeholders can work together to produce practical and positive results," said Sandra Tirey, assistant vice president and co-leader of the Council's Public Health Team. "The pilot program has the potential to advance the use of scientific principles to better understand potential risks to children."

Tirey applauded EPA for developing the pilot program and for "weighing various viewpoints and for working in good faith to respond to stakeholder concerns. We are hopeful," she added, "that the pilot program can provide the kind of scientific information necessary to better understand the risks children may potentially encounter as a basis for taking any appropriate actions. Better information leads to better decisions - by government, industry and individuals."

Chemical substances in the pilot were selected by EPA based on the chemicals' occurrence in existing biomonitoring and environmental databases.

Inclusion on the list of chemicals to be evaluated does not mean a chemical substance poses a threat to children. "Identification for the VCCEP does not mean that the existing hazard and exposure data have been or will be determined to be inadequate," EPA said in the Federal Register notice. "Identification for the VCCEP also does not mean that EPA has made or will make a determination that any uses of the chemical pose significant risks to children's health."

The VCCEP incorporates several important approaches to chemical evaluation, including:

* The collection of hazard and exposure data in an integrated evaluation process.

* Tiered evaluation in which data from the current tier determines whether subsequent and more extensive data collection is necessary.

* A peer consultation process to determine additional data needs.

While the VCCEP pilot is designed to evaluate some potential risks to children, many independent health experts and the Council point out that children are healthier today than ever before. "Disease and injury prevention programs, clean water, modern sanitation practices, immunizations, advanced diagnostics and advanced pharmaceuticals provide children greater health protection than at any time in history," Tirey said. "Innovative chemistry plays a pivotal role in all of these life-enhancing technologies."

"As important as environmental issues are, such issues should be considered in the context of all threats to children's health," Tirey added. "Despite great success to protect children, many risks remain - accidents, violence, alcohol and drug abuse and poverty, to name a few. We support efforts to develop science-based strategies that address the range of risks facing children today."

The chemical substances volunteered for the VCCEP are: acetone, alpha-pinene, benzene, decabromodiphenylether, decane, ethylbenzene, ethylene dichloride, m-xylene, methylethyl ketone, o-xylene, n-dodecane, octabromodiphenylether, p-dichlorobenzene, p-dioxane, pentabromodiphenylether, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, toluene, undecane, vinyledenechloride.

Some of the substances will be evaluated by individual producers. Others will be assessed through collective testing agreements among multiple companies.

While the American Chemistry Council played an active role in EPA's stakeholder process, individual companies with chemical substances in the VCCEP pilot program determined their own participation.

The American Chemistry Council represents companies engaged in the business of chemistry. Council members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. The Council is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care�common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $460 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is the nation's largest exporter, accounting for ten cents out of every dollar in U.S. exports. Chemistry companies invest more in research and development than any other business sector.

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