10% Of High-Volume Chemicals Still Need Company Sponsors

On June 17th, Environmental Defense released "Orphan Chemicals in the HPV Challenge: A Status Report" showing that approximately 10% of eligible chemicals in the U.S. High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge have not been sponsored by their producers. The report also found that more than 700 additional chemicals have emerged as new HPVs since the program began in 1998, but only about 100 have been sponsored. The report is available online at www.environmentaldefense.org/go/hpvorphans.

"It's frustrating to see some companies shirking their responsibilities when, as a whole, the HPV Challenge has been incredibly successful," said Environmental Defense senior scientist Dr. Richard Denison. "Companies need to promptly adopt their remaining orphaned chemicals, and also commit to picking up new HPV chemicals as they emerge. By making hazard data public for all HPV chemicals in use, the country can take a critical step toward addressing the enormous legacy of toxic ignorance."

The report is based an Environmental Defense survey of more than 200 companies that reported producing or importing HPV chemicals, but have not committed to fill gaps in the basic data needed to characterize the chemicals' hazards to human health and the environment.

Based on responses received, Environmental Defense found that at least 156, and possibly as many as 259, Challenge program chemicals remain "orphans" – chemicals still manufactured in amounts exceeding one million pounds annually but not sponsored by any producer. Over 100 companies reported manufacturing orphan HPV chemicals but either did not respond to the survey or provided insufficient justification for non-sponsorship. These "deadbeat dad" companies are singled out in the report for the orphan chemicals they manufacture and have not sponsored, although some of the companies have sponsored other HPV chemicals. The following companies are the worst apparent "deadbeat dads," based on number of orphans (shown in parentheses): Koppers Industries, Inc. (13), United States Steel Corp. (10), BASF Corp. (8), The Dow Chemical Company (8), Exxon Mobil Chemical Company (6), Lonza, Inc. (6), Univar USA, Inc. (6), Albemarle Corp. (5), Clariant LSM (US) Inc. (5), Atofina Chemicals, Inc. (4), Reilly Industries, Inc. (4), Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. (4) and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. (4).

Many companies have claimed their identity in association with particular orphan chemicals as confidential business information (CBI), and hence could not be contacted – a significant limitation to the analysis Environmental Defense could perform. Environmental Defense urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both to aggressively challenge such CBI claims and to use its own access to CBI information to determine which companies making such claims are also "deadbeat dads."

Another key finding identified in the Environmental Defense report is that more than 700 additional chemicals have begun being produced at HPV levels since the program was launched. These chemicals are not formally included in the Challenge, although companies are encouraged to sponsor them as they emerge as HPV chemicals.

"More than 600 of the new HPVs have yet to be sponsored, a problem that needs to be addressed if the Challenge is to fulfill its promise of ensuring that the public has access to hazard data on all HPV chemicals," said Denison.

In the HPV Challenge, launched in 1998 under a framework developed jointly by EPA, Environmental Defense and the American Chemistry Council, several hundred companies have volunteered to sponsor more than 2,200 HPV chemicals. Sponsorship entails a commitment to compile existing or develop new data on a basic set of hazard characteristics specified under the program, and to provide the data to EPA, which committed to make all of the data publicly available by no later than the end of 2005.

Detailed information on the status of all companies and chemicals involved in the HPV Challenge, including the unsponsored chemicals, and copies of the companies' response letters to the Environmental Defense survey are available online in the Environmental Defense HPV Tracker at www.environmentaldefense.org/go/hpvtracker.

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