Padilla, Lofgren Introduce Legislation to Protect Americans from Toxic Chemical Exposure
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (both D-Calif.) introduced the Supercomputing for Safer Chemicals (SUPERSAFE) Act. The legislation would establish a SUPERSAFE Consortium led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify chemicals that are safe to use in commerce through science-backed decision making.
“As an engineer, I am proud to introduce legislation to bolster our scientific understanding of chemical exposures and shift American commerce towards the safer and more sustainable use of chemicals in manufacturing and consumer products,” said Senator Padilla. “Unfortunately, too many Californians and Americans are exposed to toxic chemicals, and Congress has stepped up and provided billions to remediate toxic exposures, including via funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address PFAS and lead pollution. By establishing a SUPERSAFE Consortium in law, Congress can help the federal government avoid the widespread pollution that our communities face now, address potential pollution challenges before they become widespread, and save the government money on future clean-up efforts.”
“I’m proud to be introducing the House companion to the SUPERSAFE Act with Senator Padilla today,” said Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. “This bill enables the Environmental Protection Agency to leverage the supercomputing infrastructure already in place within our National Labs, including several in California, to expand our understanding of hazardous chemicals. SUPERSAFE will especially focus on chemicals used in some manufacturing processes. As we continue working hard to bring manufacturing back to the United States, we must always commit to keeping American families safe. This bill is an important step in doing just that.”
“SUPERSAFE would significantly advance our ability to protect California workers and communities from exposure to toxic chemicals used in manufacturing and everyday consumer products,” said Yana Garcia, California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection. “The reality is: We interact with hundreds of chemicals that we don’t truly understand every day. SUPERSAFE would harness the power of supercomputing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to help us identify which of these chemicals are toxic and accelerate our development of safer alternatives.”
“Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working with partners across DOE, government, and industry to integrate molecular modeling, machine learning and advances in high-performance computing to dramatically accelerate screening of potentially hazardous chemicals,” said Kim Budil, LLNL Director. “This program – SuperSafe – will help limit exposures and, ultimately, reduce risks.”
Currently, tens of thousands of untested chemicals can be used in commercial products, resulting in consumer, community, and worker exposures to potentially toxic chemicals. Too often, there is insufficient scientific data for evaluating health effects or identifying safer chemicals, and existing approaches to generating this data are slow, costly, and rely on animal testing.
The SUPERSAFE Consortium established by the Padilla/Lofgren legislation would direct the use of supercomputing, machine learning, and other similar capabilities to:
- Establish rapid approaches for large-scale identification of toxic substances and the development of safer alternatives to toxic substances by developing and validating computational toxicology methods;
- Address the need to identify safe chemicals for use in consumer and industrial products and in their manufacture to support the move away from toxic substances and toward safe-by-design alternatives; and
- Make recommendations on how the information produced can be applied in risk assessments and other characterizations for use by the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies in regulatory decisions, and by industry in identifying toxic and safer chemicals.
The SUPERSAFE Consortium would be led in consultation with the heads of relevant Federal agencies, the National Labs, academic and other research institutions, state agencies, and other entities as determined by the EPA.
The legislation would also direct the Consortium to make model predictions, along with supporting documentation, available to the public to ensure that both industry and communities can better access information about chemicals that could harm public health. It would also support EPA’s federal mandates to reduce the use of animal testing.
During a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last Congress, Senator Padilla questioned Dr. Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, on how SUPERSAFE would assist the EPA in assessing new chemicals. Dr. Freedhoff responded by saying that EPA is excited by any new scientific tools to speed up reviews and to reduce the use of animal testing and that SUPERSAFE would be a good complement to their current efforts.
Full text of the bill can be found here.