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Right-to-Know

Concern about the environmental and human health risks attending chemical release and exposure has led to a proliferation of governmental “right-to-know” laws and private initiatives demanding greater transparency with respect to the presence of chemicals and the hazards that they may pose.  These efforts vary somewhat in their scope, but they generally require disclosure when certain chemicals are present in products, homes, or workplaces, or when released into the environment. Disclosure is often intended to discourage use of those chemicals while enabling potentially affected persons to make informed decisions about protecting themselves through their purchasing, handling, and other practices.

In the United States, two federal statutes – the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) – impose some of the better-known legal obligations.  However, disclosure obligations are found in other federal statutes such as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  At the state level, disclosure provisions are often included in workplace health and safety laws, but they also may be found in consumer-oriented laws such as California’s Proposition 65 and the laws and regulations enacted as part of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative (e.g., AB 1879 and SB 509).  Analogous requirements exist under the laws of other countries and regions such as Canada, Japan, and the European Union, and more are on the way as governments around the world implement the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

Companies that understand and comply with their disclosure obligations minimize the risk of costly enforcement actions and other potential legal liabilities, but they also protect their reputations in the communities in which they operate.  Pursuing transparency beyond what is legally required also has advantages, but it requires a careful balancing of the benefits against the potential costs such as the loss of proprietary information.  Using a combination of in-house expertise and a network of independent, jurisdiction-specific experts, Verdant can help companies understand their obligations and evaluate opportunities in most of the major markets.  For example, the Firm can assist with:

  • Interpreting right-to-know regulations and guidance.
  • Developing hazard communication materials.
  • Advising on efforts to provide greater transparency to stakeholders.
  • Protecting trade secrets and other sensitive business information.
  • Managing voluntary disclosures within the value chain.
  • Tracking and analyzing implementation of the GHS.
  • Supporting compliance audits and management of voluntary disclosures.
  • Defending government and private enforcement actions.   
  • Providing strategic public policy, litigation and regulatory advocacy and counsel.

For more information on the Firm’s capabilities, please send an e-mail to right2know@verdantlaw.com, or call +1.202.828.1233.