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EPA Is Now Prioritizing and Evaluating Chemical Risks

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it is in the process of how it will be prioritizing and evaluating chemicals — ones that had been grandfathered under earlier laws but had failed to require companies to provide data on the chemicals they produced. The final processes are to be in place before June 22, 2017, all to comply with the Toxic Substances Control Act.

“After 40 years we can finally address chemicals currently in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement. “Today’s action will set into motion a process to quickly evaluate chemicals and meet deadlines required under, and essential to, implementing the new law.”

To achieve that, EPA is proposing an inventory rule, a prioritization rule and a risk evaluation rule. Briefly, the former will require manufacturers, including importers, to notify EPA and the public on the number of chemicals still being produced.

EPA will then have to prioritize the chemicals for evaluation using a risk-based screening process before deciding which ones carry a high or low priority. If it is a high risk, it must undergo evaluation. And, the risk evaluation rule will identify the steps it is taking to review chemicals, including the publishing the scope of how each one has been evaluated.

It’s a big task with greater than 85,000 chemicals on EPA’s inventory. If it identifies an unreasonable risk, it must eliminate that hazard. The agency is accepting comments for the next 60 days. 

On Thursday, the agency said its that toxic chemicals released into the air fell by 56% from 2005-2015 at industrial facilities submitting data to the Toxic Substance Control Act. 

The report shows an 8% decrease from 2014 to 2015 at facilities reporting to the program contributed to this ten-year decline, it said. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, toluene and mercury were among chemicals with significantly lower air releases at TRI-covered facilities.

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