Pollutant Reg Lists/Cross-media transfer

Alex J. Sagady asagady at sojourn.com
Fri Sep 19 13:54:59 EST 1997

A colleague and friend, John Dernbach
from Pennsylvania, asked me to post this 
item to a number of Internet groups and lists seen
by folks in the environmental health community.

Professor Dernbach would like to stimulate 
discussion in the environmental community 
on the matter of gaps in regulation posed
by the different lists of chemicals in different
environmental media programs.

I'd suggest that citizens fighting particular,
site-specific pollution battles may be able
to use the analytical techniques posed in 
the article to show that companies may 
be taking advantage of these regulatory
gaps to foster cross-media pollution
transfers that create community environmental
problems instead of cleanups.

Alex Sagady
Environmental Consultant
East Lansing, MI
(517) 332-6971
asagady at sojourn.com


of article published at 


John C. Dernbach, Associate Professor 
Widener University Law School 
3800 Vartan Way 
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania  17106-9382
Phone: (717) 541-1933. Fax: (717) 541-3966
EMail: john.c.dernbach at law.widener.edu.


A. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation 
and Recovery Act, Emergency Planning and Community 
Right-to-Know Act (§ 313), and Occupational Safety and 
Health Act each regulate a set of pollutants as toxic or 
hazardous.  Each set of pollutants is significantly different from the

--1,134 pollutants or classes of pollutants are regulated 
under at least one of these five statutes.  Only 49 are 
regulated under all five.  Almost 800 are regulated under only one.

--A total of 579 pollutants are regulated under at least one of 
three statutes--the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and 
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  Only 63 are regulated 
under all three.

B. There is no coherent risk-based explanation for these differences.  
The list development processes for each statute were conducted 
independently, used different risk criteria, and in some cases 
excluded chemicals presenting significant risks to keep the 
regulatory program manageable or reduce costs to industry.  


A. Inconsistent listing encourages companies to release pollutants 
in environmental media (air, water, waste) where they are not 
regulated.  Companies regulated under the Clean Water Act 
have reduced direct discharges of regulated pollutants to 
waterways but increased releases of the same pollutants to 
the air, according to national data.

B. Pollution prevention appears more likely where there is 
little or no opportunity to release a pollutant into an unregulated 
medium.   Pollution prevention involves changes in the manufacturing 
process that prevent pollutants from coming into existence.  
The great majority of the 50 chemicals identified by EPA as 
the top chemicals for pollution prevention in 1994 were 
regulated under at least four of these programs.  

C. Inconsistent listing indicates that the regulatory programs 
adopted under these statutes are insufficiently protective and 
impose unnecessary costs.  They are insufficiently protective 
because they regulate virtually all pollutants in some media but 
not others, and because pollutants move from medium to medium 
after they are released (for example, from air to water).  Inconsistent 
listing also means the costs of medium-specific pollution control 
devices are not necessarily justified by the results achieved. 

D. In addition, inconsistent listing means that the people 
who live near or work in facilities cannot obtain a complete 
understanding of the various chemicals released from or within 
those facilities, or the risks they present.  The Toxics Release 
Inventory, which is the best source of multi-media release 
information, doesn't solve that problem.  Because it is based 
on § 313 of the Emergency Planning Act, its list is different 
from the others.


A. The data in the article provide considerable support for 
pollution prevention as an alternative to controlling the release 
of pollutants into individual media after they have been created. 

B. To focus on the worst toxics and provide an opportunity for 
learning how to conduct serious pollution prevention, Congress 
should adopt a list of chemicals that are toxic in multiple media, 
set substantial pollution prevention goals for those pollutants, 
and provide incentives to industry for doing so.  Over time, the 
multi-media list should be expanded to other pollutants.  

C. Public reporting under § 313 of the Emergency Planning Act 
should be expanded to include most chemicals released from 
facilities in amounts that exceed the current reporting threshold. 

D. The proposal should reduce compliance costs as well as 
increase protection for human health and the environment.

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