THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES PROGRAM TO
CLOSE GAP IN PUBLIC'S RIGHT-TO-KNOW ABOUT
POTENTIALLY HARMFUL CHEMICALS
BOSTON, MA -- Vice President Gore announced today that, under a new program, companies will voluntarily test the human health and environmental effects of the chemicals they manufacture and make the information available to the public.
"This major new effort will close a gap in the public's right-to-know about potentially harmful chemicals released into our air, our land, and our water," the Vice President said of the agreement among the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Chemical Manufacturers' Association, and the Environmental Defense Fund. "This effort honors the public's right-to-know about possible risks to their families while prompting companies to make more informed and sensible decisions about chemical use."
The program builds on the Vice President's Earth Day challenge to the chemical industry to give Americans basic information about the potential health effects of chemicals used widely in their communities. Companies will voluntarily conduct tests on the human health and environmental effects of the chemicals they manufacture. The American Petroleum Institute, whose members produce many of these chemicals to be tested, endorsed the agreement.
Test results will be immediately available, and testing of these high-volume chemicals should be completed by the year 2004. To ensure that Americans have adequate information on health effects, the EPA will use its regulatory power to require more testing if companies do not voluntarily provide the needed information in a timely manner.
Today's announcement builds on Administration efforts to give communities access to more information about chemicals released into their air and water. EPA has doubled the number of chemicals subject to reporting under the Toxics Release Inventory, which requires industrial facilities to disclose how much chemical pollution they release to the environment. Last year, the President a 30 percent increase in the number of facilities required to report data. Of the 2,800 most widely-used chemicals, complete data on health effects is available for only 7 percent.
The public will be able to follow the progress in gaining information about these chemicals on the internet. The web address for monitoring the progress of the program and the commitments of participating chemical companies is http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/chemtrk.