The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has penalized DuPont $3.3 million for violating part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which requires companies to inform EPA of research demonstrating that a chemical could pose a substantial risk to human health and the environment. TSCA allows EPA to limit potential hazards associated with manufacturing, use, and disposal of chemicals.
Here's a recap of the big news and some clarification: how serious is this and what does it mean for the future?
EPA is clearly trying to get a message out to say the agency is serious about chemical regulatory compliance. DuPont is an easy target - not because they're more lax than most perhaps but because they're bigger than most. Time will tell if the enforcement or the deterrent trickles down.
DuPont, a chemical manufacturer based in Wilmington, DE, provides products and services for markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation, and apparel.
As the Washington Post reported:
[the measure is] to hold DuPont accountable for not turning over evidence to the government from as far back as 1981 about the substance also known as PFOA. That evidence documented that the compound -- which is used to produce nonstick and stain-resistant materials -- could be transferred from a woman to her baby via the placenta. Other studies showed rats dying after inhaling the chemical.
In May, 2006, DuPont admitted that it failed to submit inhalation chemical toxicity studies performed on rats, as required by TSCA Section 8(e), which states “Any person who manufactures, [imports,] processes, or distributes in commerce a chemical substance or mixture and who obtains information which reasonably supports the conclusion that such substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment shall immediately inform the [EPA] Administrator of such information unless such person has actual knowledge that the Administrator has been adequately informed of such information.”
“DuPont failed to comply with the law and notify EPA that it had information on chemicals that could pose a risk to human health and the environment,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
After submitting the inhalation chemical toxicity studies in July, 2006, EPA determined that 57 of the studies contained information that is subject to TSCA Section 8(e) because of risk of injury to health or the environment.