• 18 Jan 2017 2:46 PM | Jim Quinn

    The issue of so-called inert ingredients in pesticides is one NAHMMA has been involved in for more than 10 years. Of particular concern is the lack of disclosure of these ingredients on the labels of pesticide products used in households, despite their health and environmental impacts.  NAHMMA first commented on this issue in 2006, as part of a coalition of organizations petitioning EPA. In 2009 we commented on a rulemaking proposal that would require disclosure of inerts:

    US EPA

    Office of Pesticide Programs

    Washington DC

    Re: Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0635

    NAHMMA, The North American Hazardous Materials Management Association, is a membership organization made up of state and local government representatives and waste management professionals dedicated to pollution prevention and reducing the toxicity of the municipal waste stream. As an organization we strongly support the disclosure of so-called inerts in pesticides, and we were a signatory organization to the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) petition in 2006.

    There are thousands of collection programs around the country for hazardous waste generated by households and CESQG’s (conditionally exempt small quantity generators), including many operated by NAHMMA members. Programs such as ours endeavor to test, process, store and dispose of all wastes we receive in a manner that is protective of our workers and the environment. When product ingredients are not identified on the label, including ingredients that definitely do pose risks to workers and the environment, our job is made much more difficult.

    Many of our members also conduct education programs that focus on teaching the public about the hazards of household products, including pesticides. One important principle of these programs is that users should carefully read product labels, find out the ingredients of products, and understand the hazards of these ingredients. These efforts are frustrated when ingredients are not disclosed on the label.

    NAHMMA position is that full ingredient disclosure on pesticide labels is essential to safe and ethical marketing of pesticide products. We believe that the value of health and environmental protection afforded by such a requirement outweighs any burden to the pesticide industry in doing so.

    Dave Waddell

    NAHMMA President

    In 2014 EPA released a statement that denied the 2006 petition and dropped the 2009 rulemaking, in favor of non-regulatory actions that they plan to take. A recent news story announces the first such action. A close look at this story shows that EPA is banning 72 ingredients that have been used as inerts in pesticide products- but that none of them are currently in use in the US. EPA also intends to move forward with additional actions on a case-by-case basis, using safety and risk analysis, but considering the slow pace of actions to date, and the likelihood that EPA activities will be greatly curtailed in the near future with the incoming administration, there is little hope that the inerts issue will be resolved any time soon.

  • 18 Jul 2016 11:00 AM | Jim Quinn

    On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed HR2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, into law. This is the long awaited reform of TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA was originally passed in 1976, for many years now it has been recognized that TSCA has not provided an effective means of regulating chemicals in commerce.

    So is the new improved TSCA really an improvement? The consensus seems to be that yes, it does provide some real improvements, establishing a process that should result in some effective regulation of chemicals, but that it could have been a whole lot better.  Advocacy organizations and supportive legislators worked hard to make it a good bill, but in order to get legislators from both parties on board, considerable compromises were made.

    Here is a quick overview from the Safer Chemicals Health Families folks (NAHMMA signed on as one of their coalition members):

    "The reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gives EPA important new authorities to tackle the problem of toxic chemicals. For the first time, there are also enforceable deadlines and schedules for EPA work on chemicals as well as dedicated funding from fees paid by industry. The pace of change will be slow, however. There are some unnecessary activities required that will divert resources and there are some loopholes in the law. State authority is unduly infringed under the bill, but enough is preserved that states can still take the lead in public health interventions for many if not most, chemicals."

    Here are some more detailed reports on the new law, from some of NAHMMA's partner organizations:

    http://toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Frank+R.+Lautenberg+Chemical+Safety+for+the+21st+Century+Act

    http://greensciencepolicy.org/forty-years-later-tsca-gets-an-overhaul/

    http://saferchemicals.org/get-the-facts/an-abbreviated-guide-to-the-frank-r-lautenberg-act-chemical-safety-in-the-21st-century-act/

  • 23 Feb 2016 1:00 PM | Nicole Plese (Administrator)

    You’ve probably heard about PaintCare, the paint industry funded and operated program for collecting and managing leftover paint, now operating in 8 states plus the District of Columbia. Here in Oregon we were fortunate enough to be the first state to have PaintCare, which launched here in July of 2010. PaintCare is a great example of a producer responsibility program, also known as extended producer responsibility, or EPR. You can learn a lot more about EPR at the Product Stewardship Institute website, but in short it is the idea that the producers who make products should take responsibility for collection and proper management at the end of life. 

    I oversee a large HHW collection program here in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. When PaintCare came into the picture our operating costs were reduced significantly, to the tune of $1 million annually. This caught the attention of our upper management, and we were asked to study the possibility of establishing EPR programs for other HHW that we collect, and what the cost savings from that might be. Based on the consultant study that we commissioned to answer this question, we could save up to another $2 million annually. I can share copies of this study, drop me a line if you are interested.

    But the arguments for pursuing EPR for HHW go beyond just reducing the cost burden to local government. Since the early 1980s many local governments have recognized the risks to public health and the environment that are posed by HHW. In most places HHW is exempt from the rules and regulations that govern the management of commercial and industrial hazardous waste, but the exact same stuff if generated by a business would require cradle to grave management.  Because of this gap in the regulations, local agencies have established collection programs around the country, to provide places for their residents to bring unwanted leftover hazardous products from their homes for proper disposal.

    However even the leading HHW programs - and I’d like to think my program is among them- are not able to capture anywhere near 100% of the HHW that is generated. While there is unfortunately not a lot of solid information about just much HHW is actually generated vs. how much is collected, my estimates are that the best programs are collecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-75% of what is generated. In many areas it is lower than that, and there are large swathes of the country with no HHW collection at all. Meanwhile here in the Portland area it looks like 100% of the paint generated is being collected, now that we have a solid stewardship program in place.  In order to truly solve the HHW problem that we set out to solve more than 30 years ago now, I argue that robust EPR programs provide the only viable answer.

    My agency has launched an effort to pass legislation here in Oregon that would establish a statewide EPR program for a wide variety of products that end up as HHW.   While Oregon would be the first state in the US to implement EPR for HHW, there are three Canadian provinces that have programs in place already, from which we took inspiration, and there are plans for all of Canada to eventually implement similar programs.  In conjunction with a co-worker of mine who works on the policy side of the house here at Metro, we drafted a bill, which made it to a legislative committee hearing earlier this year. We are now moving into a stakeholder engagement process, in the hopes of improving the bill for introduction at a future legislative session. You can see an overview of the bill here, and the bill itself, as amended, here. If you are interested in being kept up to date on future developments, or would like to tune in to our stakeholder meetings, please contact me.

    If you have any questions or comments about this effort, feel free to post them in the comment section (you need to be a NAHMMA member with a website login to do so).  

  • 23 Feb 2016 12:37 PM | Nicole Plese (Administrator)

    EPA recently released two new proposed regulatory changes, one relating to pharmaceuticals, one relating to hazardous waste generation and determination. From my reading, the pharmaceuticals rule is targeted to health care facilities, and would not have a big impact for most NAHMMA members, more information on it can be found here. The rule changes addressing hazardous waste generation could be of interest to those who work with CESQGs in any way- in fact a big terminology change is proposed, they would no longer be referred to as CESQGs, but would be called VSQGs, or Very Small Quantity Generators, as is currently the case in Minnesota. The proposal also contains a number of other regulatory changes that would affect CESQGs/VSQGs, which I have summarized below. I skimmed over the sections impacting SQGs and LGQs, if your work involves these generators you might want to take a look at how the proposed changes impact them.

    Complete details on the proposal can be found here. From my reading I don't see anything that creates a serious impact that NAHMMA should comment on, but please comment below if you feel otherwise. Note that some states may already address these issues in their own EPA-approved state-run programs, and they will need to sort out how the proposed rules affect their state-specific requirements. Proposed changes relating to CESQGs include:

    * Generators That Temporarily Change Generator Category as a Result of an Episodic Event. This section imposes significant new requirements on CESQGs if they from time to time exceed CESGQ generation thresholds.

    * Clarification of the impact on generator status of generating quantities of acute hazardous wastes vs. non-acute hazardous waste vs. spill cleanup residues.

    * Clarification and rules relating to mixing of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes.

    * Allowing CESQGs To Send Hazardous Waste to LQGs Under the Control of the Same Person.

    * Clarification of the process for conducting a hazardous waste determination, including a new requirement for maintaining records as long as the generator is in business- they are not currently proposing to apply this requirement to VSQGs, but are asking for input on the effect it would have on them.

    * The proposal also includes a significant reorganization of the relevant sections of 40CFR258-265, with detailed "crosswalking" of the old & new organization.

    Please join in the conversation if you have thoughts about these proposed regulations.  

  • 23 Feb 2016 12:30 PM | Nicole Plese (Administrator)

    For a few years now Congress has been working on reforming TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA reform is an important issue for NAHMMA, as it will directly impact the array of chemicals that are allowed for use in commerce, and could prevent the most hazardous chemicals from finding their way into homes and businesses.  For more background on TSCA see the Policy Committee Background Document here, and my presentation at the 2013 NAHMMA conference here

    Unfortunately TSCA, and the current efforts to reform it, are complex. It takes a lot of time and study to get a handle on the various policy nuances.  For this reason I rely heavily on the NGOs that focus on TSCA reform.  In particular I look to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a coalition of organizations that NAHMMA has signed on to. I also follow the blogs on TSCA reform posted by Richard Denison at EDF, Richard was a keynote speaker at a NAHMMA conference a few years back.

    In recent years several TSCA reform bills have been considered, with two bills under serious consideration now. There’s the “TSCA Modernization Act”, HR 2576, which recently passed the House on a 398 to 1 vote, and a bill in the Senate, S.697.  Observers are saying these bills are the best hope for any reform to happen at all.  There are significant differences between the two bills, so the next step is for the Senate to decide whether to take up the house bill, or work toward passage of their own bill. For an analysis of the differences see this SCHF blog post.  Also see this presentation at the 2015 NAHMMA NW Chapter conference by Ken Zarker.

    Of course we are in a Republican dominated congress, and the chemical industry holds a lot of sway, but even they are saying that reform is needed. The question becomes whether a bill can be crafted that makes genuine improvements to the current flawed system for regulating chemicals in commerce, without losing the support from the Republican side.

    From the analyses by our NGO friends it is clear that there has been a lot of bipartisan work on the bills, and they are showing signs of promise that real reform could happen. But, there are some key areas that still need work.  A big issue that concerns both the Safer Chemicals folks and EDF, as well as many people working in state government, is the issue of preemption. In essence this is the proposition that state governments should no longer have authority to regulate particular chemicals in commerce once EPA takes them up for consideration. The discussion now focuses on strictly defining and narrowing preemption so it does not severely restrict states’ ability to take action.  It’s complicated stuff, Richard Denison’s blog post sheds some light on the issue.  

    So, this is challenging legislation for NAHMMA to comment on. Because of the need to get NAHMMA board approval for legislative comments, we probably have one shot at submitting a letter. Please chime in: Any thoughts on when & how NAHMMA should comment? Any pointers to other resources that shed light on the issues?  Any other comments on this complex but important topic?

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