Death by Delay: Obama Team Stalls on Chemical Regulation

12:27 pm in Uncategorized by Rebekah Wilce

This article was originally published by the Center for Media and Democracy at

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has drafted a “chemicals of concern” list to restrict the use of certain chemicals and alert the public to their possible dangers. But the list remains secret and dormant because it’s stuck at the Obama administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review.

OIRA is a division of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). According to Katie Greenhaw, Regulatory Policy Analyst at the government watch-dog group OMB Watch, OIRA has 90  – 120 days to review rules from a regulatory agency, before releasing the rule back to the agency to open it up for public comment. Rules then go back to OIRA for additional review before being published as final rules. This rule has been stuck at OIRA for almost two years. That means the public hasn’t even laid eyes on it.

Secret List

The EPA has hinted that its list of chemicals that may cause “unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment” may include “a category of eight phthalates, a category of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and bisphenol A (BPA).”

Phthalates: Plastic Softeners

Phthalates, called “plasticizers,” are industrial chemicals used in plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They’re now ubiquitous, found in, among other things, toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and shampoo. Their presence in PVC gave it the nickname “poison plastic.” The eight phthalates of particular concern to the EPA are listed here.

The European Union banned phthalates in children’s toys in 1999 out of concern that they might damage the sexual development of children. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, individual phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system, reduce sperm counts and cause structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites research linking phthalates to liver cancer in test animals.

PBDEs: Flame Retardants Read the rest of this entry →