The Shifting Roles of the EU, the US and California
Edited by David Vogel and Johan Swinnen
Chapter 5: Reshaping Chemicals Policy on Two Sides of the Atlantic: The Promise of Improved Sustainability through International Collaboration
Megan R. Schwarzman and Michael P. Wilson INTRODUCTION Despite the enormous scale of global chemical production, decades-old US chemicals regulations have proven insufficient in protecting human and environmental health and in motivating real investment by chemical companies in the design of safer substances. The need for effective regulations is critical, however: each day, 34 million metric tonnes of chemical substances are produced in or imported into the US (US EPA, 2006), a figure that is expected to grow alongside global chemical production, which will double in the next 24 years (Figure 5.1) (OECD, 2001, pp. 34–36; American Chemistry Council, 2003, p. 78). All of these substances – or their degradation products – ultimately enter the earth’s finite ecosystems at some point in their life cycle. Many ecosystems that heretofore were assumed to possess unlimited assimilative capacity are now suffering from exposure to both legacy and ‘emerging’ chemical contaminants (Braune et al., 2005, pp. 4–56; Scheffer et al., 2001, pp. 591–96). These effects are moving beyond individual species to impact on the integrity of ecosystems as a whole; they are thus illuminating the links between the chemical enterprise and mounting global environmental problems (Stuart Chapin III et al., 1997, pp. 500–504; Vitousek et al., 2008, pp. 494–99). As the environmental health sciences have evolved, US chemicals policy has lagged behind. The primary US chemicals statute, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), continues to rely on outdated scientific evidence and insufficient public health protections, and it has...
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