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chemicals

EPA Names First Chemicals for Review Under TSCA Reform

chemicalsThe EPA has named asbestos and nine other chemicals as the first 10 substances it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under the updated Toxic Substances Control Act.

Regulating asbestos under the original 1976 law was ruled illegal.

In August, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the EPA saying that under the newly reformed federal chemical safety rules, asbestos should be reviewed.

The first 10 chemicals to be evaluated are:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • 1-Bromopropane
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster
  • Methylene Chloride
  • N-methylpyrrolidone
  • Pigment Violet 29
  • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene

The agency must complete risk evaluations for these chemicals within three years. If the EPA determines that a chemical presents an “unreasonable risk,” it must mitigate that risk within two years.

Under the amended chemical law, the EPA must release a scoping document within six months for each chemical. This will include the hazard(s), exposure(s), conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation(s) the agency plans to consider for the evaluation.

Additional chemicals will be designated for evaluation. By the end of 2019, EPA must have at least 20 chemical risk valuations ongoing at any given time.

Environmental groups praised the agency’s move.

“Today’s announcement is an important mark of progress under the new law and an important step forward for America’s health,” said the Environmental Defense Fund in a statement. “The potentially dangerous chemicals on this list are long overdue for attention from EPA. This action is a sign that the reformed law, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, is on the right track.”

Meanwhile the chemical industry urged the EPA to “engage stakeholders” in the evaluation process.

“It is important to note that a chemical’s inclusion in this first group of 10 chemicals does not in and of itself indicate anything about the safety of the chemical,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement. “Its listing is simply an acknowledgment by the agency that it plans to conduct risk evaluations on these 10 chemicals before others…In order to help ensure the most credible results, it is imperative that EPA engage stakeholders early and often throughout the risk evaluation process, including through peer review and public comment.”

Over the summer the EPA posted an Implementation Plan that outlines the agency’s first-year plans to implement the new chemical safety rules. It gives chemical companies and others a better idea of what, and when, they can expect in terms of EPA rulemaking and enforcement activities.

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