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ASC pinpoints regulatory actions as focus in 2015

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BETHESDA, Md.—Regulatory actions, both state and federal, will be the focus of the Adhesive and Sealant Council's government affairs actions in 2015, according to the ASC.

Dominating the ASC's agenda will be ongoing regulatory initiatives in California, said Mark Collatz, ASC director of regulatory affairs.

One of the most important of these is a proposal from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to change its “Prop 65” hazard labeling requirements.

Although the OEHHA hasn't yet issued a proposed rule on Prop 65, it informally has suggested changes to the language on the existing label that the ASC feels would be extraneous and inflammatory.

The council said it also objects to the proposed OEHHA-designed pictogram that indicates a product may pose a health hazard.

“ASC member companies consider any additional language or warning symbols to the existing label as unnecessary and a misguided attempt by the agency to characterize safe products, used daily by California consumers, as being inherently dangerous,” Collatz said. “This is just another example of what happens when regulators focus on risk without considering actual exposure.”

Another looming California issue comes from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. The DTSC has designated building and construction products—including construction adhesives and sealants—as one of seven product categories for potential 2015 review under California's Safer Consumer Products program.

“The challenge here is that DTSC has not completely worked out a process or determined the best tools for companies to use when conducting the required alternative assessment for a product in question,” Collatz said. “Every industry potentially impacted by these requirements needs to stay involved to be sure that there are rules for determining whether there are safer alternative formulas that can be applied in a fair and rational manner.”

Meanwhile, California's South Coast Air Quality Management District continues to consider changes to its Rule 1168, which limits the levels of volatile organic compounds in various products, including adhesives and sealants, Collatz said.

Although most of the issues relating to VOCs in adhesives and sealants apparently were resolved last summer, the industry will need to monitor the Rule 1168 issue until it is finalized, he said.

Other issues will be important to adhesives and sealant manufacturers in 2015, according to Collatz. These include:

• Federal legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act;

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chemical Management Plan activities, as well as its recently announced action plan for MDI and TDI;

• The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's implementation plans for its Global Harmonization Standard; and

• The U.S. Green Building Council's “v. 4” revisions to its Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design criteria.

The ASC will continue to push for improved TSCA regulations, and the only way to do that is through legislation, Collatz said. Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., have introduced TSCA legislation in the past and probably will do so again this year, he said.

As for the GHS, a coalition of industry associations including the ASC won a victory late last year when OSHA agreed not to penalize companies for not meeting the June 1, 2015, compliance deadline.

The coalition told OSHA that it would be impossible for most of its members to be in full compliance with GHS by the deadline, because they wouldn't have all the information they needed by that time.

OSHA Administrator David Michaels told the coalition that companies would not be penalized as long as they demonstrated a good-faith effort to comply with the safety data sheet and labeling requirements of the GHS.

The problem, according to Collatz, is that OSHA hasn't defined what constitutes a good-faith effort. “The critical point is that we understand there will be some allowances made,” he said. “But we have no specifications on what those allowances will be.”