Dealing with Chemicals: It's Everybody's Job

Journal of Environmental Health, July-August 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Dealing with Chemicals: It's Everybody's Job


The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act creates a new relationship among government at all levels, business and community leaders, environmental and other public-interest organizations, and individual citizens. For the first time, the law makes citizens full partners in preparing for emergencies and managing chemical risks. Each of these groups and individuals has an important role in making the program work:

Local communities and states have the basic responsibility for understanding risks posed by chemicals at the local level, for managing those risks, for reducing those risks, and for dealing with emergencies. By developing emergency planning and chemical risk management at the levels of government closest to the community, the law helps to ensure the broadest possible public representation in the decision-making process.

Citizens, health professionals, public-interest and labor organizations, the media, and others are working with government and industry to use the information for planning and response at the community level. The new law gives everyone involved access to more of the facts they need to determine what chemicals mean to the public health and safety.

Industry is responsible for operating as safely as possible using the most appropriate techniques and technologies; for gathering information on the chemicals it uses, stores, and releases into the environment and providing it to government agencies and local communities; and for helping set up procedures to handle chemical emergencies. Beyond meeting the letter of the law, some industry groups and individual companies are reaching out to their communities by explaining the health hazards involved in using chemicals, by opening communication channels with community groups, and by considering changes in their practices to reduce any potential risks to human health or the environment.

The federal government is responsible for providing national leadership and assistance to states and communities so they will have the tools and expertise they need to receive, assimilate, and analyze all Title III data, and to take appropriate measures in accidental risk and emissions reduction at the local level. EPA is also working to ensure that industry complies with the law's requirements; the public has access to information on annual toxic chemical releases; and the information is used in various EPA programs to protect the nation's air, water, and soil from pollution. EPA is also working with industry to encourage voluntary reductions in the use and release of hazardous chemicals wherever possible.

How the Law Works

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act contains four major provisions:

Planning for chemical emergencies.

Emergency notification of chemical accidents and releases.

Reporting of hazardous chemical inventories.

Toxic chemical release reporting.

The law also deals with trade secrets, disclosure of information to health professionals, public access to information gathered under the law, and other topics. The four major elements are described in this section. (The main provisions of the law are also outlined in Highlights of the Law, and It's in the Federal Register.)

Emergency Planning

The emergency planning section of the law is designed to help your community prepare for and respond to emergencies involving hazardous substances. Every community in the United States must be part of a comprehensive plan.

The governor of your state must appoint a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). The governor can choose to name one or more existing state agencies, such as the environmental, emergency, health, transportation, commerce, and other relevant agencies, as the SERC. Members of trade associations, public- interest organizations, and others with experience in emergency planning may also be included on the SERC.

Each SERC in turn has divided its state into local emergency planning districts, and must appoint a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for each district.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Dealing with Chemicals: It's Everybody's Job
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?