Stratospheric Ozone

EPA's Safety Assessment of Substitutes for Ozone-Depleting Chemicals Gao ID: RCED-89-49 February 13, 1989

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to: (1) assess the safety of chemical substitutes for ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and halons; and (2) investigate other measures designed to reduce dependence on ozone-depleting chemicals.

GAO found that: (1) impending CFC and halon regulations prompted chemical producers to accelerate testing and development of safe chemical substitutes; (2) although chemical producers tested potential substitutes, EPA had statutory responsibilities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ensure that CFC and halon substitutes did not present unreasonable risks to human health and the environment; (3) EPA developed an approach for assessing substitutes and urged producers to voluntarily provide information on their ongoing testing and test rationale; (4) EPA attempts to obtain testing data on potential substitutes resulted in incomplete data, since EPA did not require producers to submit their studies; (5) most of the potential substitutes identified could be produced by anyone, in any amount, and for any use without prior authority, since EPA did not require that producers report significant new uses of existing chemicals intended as substitutes for CFC and halon; (6) EPA intended to deal with integrating ozone-depletion concerns and traditional toxicity concerns on a case-by-case basis; and (7) EPA sponsored nine projects under its Clean Air Act mandate relating to CFC and halon conservation and recycling and non-CFC manufacturing processes, but the extent of its success in reducing use of the chemicals was uncertain because the projects were in the initial steps in the conservation project.


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