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June 13, 2023

Bicameral Bill Would Establish Consortium to Identify Safer Chemicals

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On May 18, 2023, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the Supercomputing for Safer Chemicals (SUPERSAFE) Act (S. 1685, H.R. 3457). According to Padilla’s May 18, 2023, press release, the legislation would establish a SUPERSAFE Consortium led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “to identify chemicals that are safe to use in commerce through science-backed decision making.” The press release states that the bill 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 EPA and other agencies in regulatory decisions and by industry in identifying toxic and safer chemicals.

According to the press release, the SUPERSAFE Consortium would be led in consultation with the heads of relevant federal agencies, the National Laboratories of the U.S. Department of Energy, academic and other research institutions, state agencies, and other entities as determined by EPA. The legislation would 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.
The press release notes that 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 EPA in assessing new chemicals. The press release states that 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.”
S. 1685 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. H.R. 3457 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.