EPA Releases Draft Risk Assessments of Chemicals in Household Products
The EPA has released for public comment draft risk assessments on five chemicals found in common household products.
The five assessments address the following chemical uses: methylene chloride or dichloromethane (DCM) and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in paint stripper products; trichloroethylene (TCE) as a degreaser and a spray-on protective coating; antimony trioxide (ATO) as a synergist in halogenated flame retardants; and 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethylcyclopenta-[y]-2-benzopyran (HHCB) as a fragrance ingredient in commercial and consumer products.
The draft assessments focus either on human health or ecological hazards for specific uses, which are subject to regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The TSCA restricts chemicals and their uses, and requires companies to keep records of and report their use of certain substances to EPA. Food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides are generally excluded from TSCA.
According to EPA, three of the draft risk assessments— DCM, NMP, and TCE— indicate a potential concern for human health under specific exposure scenarios for particular uses. The preliminary assessments for ATO and HHCB indicate a low concern for ecological health.
The draft risk assessments were developed as part of EPA’s TSCA Work Plan, which identified common chemicals for review over the coming years to assess any impacts on people’s health and the environment. The chemicals to be reviewed meet one or more of the following factors:
- Potentially of concern to children’s health (for example, because of reproductive or developmental effects)
- Neurotoxic effects
- Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT)
- Probable or known carcinogens
- Used in children’s products
- Detected in biomonitoring programs
Following the 60-day public comment period, EPA will seek an independent, scientific peer review of the assessments before beginning to finalize them in the fall of 2013.
James J. Jones, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, says the review period will ensure the best science is used to evaluate the chemicals’ impacts on the environment and people’s health.
EPA recommends the public follow product label directions and take precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside or in an extremely well ventilated area, and wearing protective equipment to reduce exposure.
If the EPA concludes in finalizing the risk assessments that there is a potential for concern, the agency says it will take action as appropriate to address possible risks.
In April 2012, EPA proposed a rule to require electronic reporting for certain information submitted to the agency under TSCA. The rule would require reporting into the EPA’s Central Data Exchange, and would reduce reporting burdens, reduce costs, and speed up public access to chemical information, the EPA said.
An online safety and disclosure guide released by the Environmental Working Group in September 2012 gave cleaning products made by Clorox, SC Johnson and Reckitt Benckiser and hundreds of other companies failing grades and found more than half of the 2,000 household cleaners reviewed are potentially harmful to human health.
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