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How Chemical Regulations Impact the Innovation of Industries


Chemical manufacturing companies in America are some of the most regulated in the world. Because of that, there is a debate the rages over the cost and benefit of those regulations. While opinions certainly vary depending on one’s point of view, regulations in the chemical industry are generally viewed as beneficial and in some cases, critical to innovation. The question is more one of balance – at what point does a creativity-inspiring regulation cross the line into over-bearing and restrictive.

The Need for Regulations

Regardless of whether regulation help or hurt innovation in chemical manufacturing, one aspect of the debate is not contested: Regulations, in general, are good and needed. In the days when regulations were scarce or benign, inadvertent polluting of the air, ground and water was routine and clean up only deemed necessary when the incident necessitating cleanup was acute. The result was significant poisoning of waterways, poor air quality and ground “brown zones” that created the need for costly remediation and greater regulation.

The potential for accidents was acute. Train derailments, chemical spills, fires in chemical manufacturing facilities, deviation from the intended use of chemicals, all contributed to high profile and routine incidents that prompted calls for greater government oversight of chemical manufacturers. This spawned the debate of regulatory throttling of innovation versus safeguarding public safety.

Federal and State Intervention

These incidents of pollution, whether specific to an occurrence or the result of an ongoing process of manufacturing, prompted state capitals and Congress to act. The result was legislation like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and a slew of laws governing the transportation of chemicals and environmental safeguarding and remediation. As might be expected, pushback based on concerns over stifling innovation and even basic processing was almost immediate.


A Slow Consensus

That pushback, however, became tempered as it became obvious that while common sense had to govern regulatory implementation, regulations on the industry was not only necessary but could be very beneficial. Chemical manufacturers had to create new ways of production and transportation that placed an emphasis on safety and effectiveness as opposed to just effectiveness.

The Results

While some still maintain regulations on chemical supply companies, most in the chemical industry will at least concede that innovation was a direct result of those new rules. For example, innovation in the chemical composition of pesticides has yielded effective pest control, with vastly reduced dangers to customer-users. Improvements in research and development because of regulations has led to safer testing methods and better delivery-to-market options. At the retail level, more reliable storage and consumer warnings / instructions have reduced incidents of end-user accidents.

In essence, regulations governing chemical manufacturing companies, transportation of chemicals, retail procedures and end user exposure and use forced the industry to innovate and create environmentally safer products. What do you think? Contact Hi Valley Chemical to learn more.