November 28, 2018

Keeping Up with Priorities

Paul C. DeLeo, Ph.D.

It was recent big news when Sears finished circling the drain and filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after 132 years in business. It has been hailed as the Amazon of its era. Though Sears was once ahead of its day, it did not adapt with the times. A common challenge in the chemical regulatory space is keeping up with the times as science advances rapidly and new technologies emerge every day. One area of current contention is how governments select chemicals from among the thousands currently on the market for priority assessment and expedited risk management action. A trend over the past two decades has been to use criteria that focus on particular human health hazards, especially carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, or reproductive toxicity; or a more risk-based approach that combines human or ecological toxicity criteria with exposure surrogates of persistence in the environment and potential for bioaccumulation up the food chain—the so-called persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals, or PBTs. The US Congress liked the PBT approach so much that it included a provision to address specifically PBT chemicals in to what is now section 6(h) of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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