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EPA Updates EPCRA Chemical Reporting to Match GHS HazCom

Posted on 7/21/2016 by Roger Marks

When it comes to overlapping chemical requirements, major changes tend to reverberate across many environmental and safety programs.

On June 13, EPA posted a Final Rule to the Federal Register to update manufacturers’ reporting and recordkeeping responsibilities under Sections 311 and 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Among other changes, EPA updated the definition of “hazardous chemical” in Section 311(3) of EPCRA to match the definition given by OSHA’s revised HazCom Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200(c). 

Even “small” GHS changes can have far-reaching effects. For example, OSHA changed the name of the “Material Safety Data Sheet,” or MSDS, to “Safety Data Sheet”, or SDS, when it harmonized its hazards communication requirements with the global Standard. EPCRA, however, still referred to Material Safety Data Sheets and MSDSs when discussing the information chemical manufacturers must submit to EPA. EPA’s June 13 rulemaking updated the language used to match that used in the now-mandatory GHS hazard communication rules at 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Hazardous chemicals regulated by GHS hazcom rules

EPA Issues Correction to EPCRA Chemical Reporting Rules

However, in the same June 13 rule to conform EPCRA chemical reporting requirements with OSHA’s 2012 Hazard Communication rulemaking to adopt global standards, EPA accidentally removed the phrases “serious eye damage or eye irritation” from the definition of “health hazard” at 40 CFR 370.66.

Consequently, on July 21, EPA followed up the rulemaking with a Final Rule to make a critical correction to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) chemical reporting requirements. Effective immediately, EPA added “serious eye damage or eye irritation” back into the definition of “health hazard.”

EPCRA Reporting Requirements

Under EPCRA, US EPA requires chemical manufacturers and importers to report on their inventories of toxic chemicals and releases of toxic chemicals from their facilities. “Releases” in this context can mean authorized air emissions, water discharges, water treatment and disposal, and/or accidental releases to the environment.

Need help with Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting? See our Tips for Form R Reports here.  

Questions about GHS and EPCRA reporting? Check out How GHS Affects Your EPCRA Responsibilities.

Or get more information about TRI reporting under EPCRA at EPA’s website.

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Tags: EPA, EPCRA, GHS, hazard communication, new rules

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