One would have thought that industry executives would understand that the health of children is one cause to which opposition would be incredibly stupid if not counter-productive, but apparently this is not the case, according to a just released report from the Inspector General of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The report, entitled EPA’s Voluntary Chemical Evaluation Program Did Not Achieve Children’s Health Protection Goals, documents how and why President Clinton signed an Executive Order in 1997 to address concerns about children’s health issues, and, in part, to address EPA’s limitations in evaluating chemical risks. However, the program, known as VCCEP, did not address the chemicals posing the greatest potential risk to children, missed opportunities to assess chemicals of high concern, failed to adequately explain chemical information to the general public, and did not produce complete or timely results or employ EPA’s regulatory authorities.
EPA had decided to proceed with a voluntary program, foregoing its regulatory powers. The result: ” Programmatic effectiveness was hampered by industry partners who chose not to voluntarily collect and submit information.” In his report, the Inspector General is recommending that the US Environmental Protection Agency design and implement a new mandatory program to assess the safety of chemicals to children. Specifically, he recommends a new design that includes:
a. A chemical selection process that identifies and includes the chemicals with the highest risk potential to children.
b. A workable data collection strategy for applying the TSCA regulatory authorities as appropriate.
c. A communications strategy that interprets results and disseminates information to the public.
d. Specific outcome measures that provide assurance the process will provide valid and timely results.
In other words, if industry will not co-operate voluntarily on children’s health and safety, bring down the hammer of regulations. Even the Tea Party might agree with that!
The Inspector General’s report is available at http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2011/20110721-11-P-0379.pdf