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June 7, 2016

Lynn L. Bergeson Quoted In Wall Street Journal Article “Updated Rule Offers Better Oversight of Nanotech Chemicals”

The ACTA Group

On June 7, 2016, the Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance Journal reporter Ben DiPietro featured quotes by Lynn L. Bergeson, President of the Acta Group (Acta®), about the impact of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Reform on nanotechnology chemicals. The article “Updated Rule Offers Better Oversight of Nanotech Chemicals” explores how many nanotech chemicals were mostly ignored by the language of TSCA, but may now be reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to determine accurate associated risks.

Some of the chemicals used in nanotech products or processes were regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act but many of the chemicals used in nanotech processes were not on the original inventory list of chemicals the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could review, said Lynn L. Bergeson, a founder at law firm Bergeson & Campbell, which focuses on issues involving domestic and international chemical product approvals.

Some of these chemicals were excluded from the original list because their molecular structure was so small that they were just presumed to be safe, said Ms. Bergeson. But with the advent of nanotechnology and the more prevalent use of these chemicals, the revised rules—expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Barack Obama—would allow the EPA to review and consider the size of the molecule and make a determination as to whether the use of such chemicals “might give rise to risks that don’t reveal themselves in the bulk size of the chemical,” she said.

The EPA’s position is if a chemical was on the inventory list and nano-sizing it doesn’t disturb the chemical’s molecular identity, “it’s an existing chemical and life goes on,” said Ms. Bergeson. Now, because of EPA’s new authority under the updated rule, EPA has new authority “to review existing chemical substances which might include a class of chemicals considered existing but which now are being manipulated under technology that could give rise to a new risk.”

Because the chemicals law regulates products and not technologies, chemicals used in nanotech processes were not treated any differently than chemicals used in other industrial and manufacturing processes, said Ms. Bergeson. Companies involved in nanotechnology lobbied hard to make sure they were not treated differently, she said. “The nanotech community and the industrial chemical community welcome the fact the law is technology-neutral because chemicals can be produced using any number of one or more technologies,” she said. “The focus is on the product and not how it came to be.”