EPA to Put in Place Process to Evaluate Chemicals That May Pose Risk; First Time in 40 Years

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving swiftly to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017.

“After 40 years, we can finally address chemicals currently in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “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.”

When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. The old law failed to provide EPA with the tools to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced.

EPA is proposing three rules to help administer the new process. They are:

Inventory Rule. There are currently over 85,000 chemicals on EPA’s Inventory, and many of these are no longer actively produced. The rule will require manufacturers, including importers, to notify EPA and the public on the number of chemicals still being produced.

Prioritization Rule. This will establish how EPA will prioritize chemicals for evaluation. EPA will use a risk-based screening process and criteria to identify whether a particular chemical is either high or low priority. A chemical designated as high priority must undergo evaluation. Chemicals designated as low priority are not required to undergo evaluation.

Risk Evaluation Rule. This will establish how EPA will evaluate the risk of existing chemicals. The agency will identify steps for the risk evaluation process, including publishing the scope of the assessment. Chemical hazards and exposures will be assessed, along with characterizing and determining risks. This rule also outlines how the agency intends to seek public comment on chemical evaluations.

These three rules incorporate comments received from a series of public meetings held in August 2016.

If EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Under TSCA, the agency must have at least 20 ongoing risk evaluations by the end of 2019.

Comments on the proposed rules must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. At that time, go to the dockets at www.regulations.gov and search for: HQ-OPPT-2016-0426 for the Inventory Rule; HQ-OPPT-2016-0636 for the Prioritization Rule; and HQ-OPPT-2016-0654 for the Risk Evaluation Rule.

Learn more about today’s proposals.

Learn more about the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

Author: Laura B.

I'm the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's Sustainability Information Curator, which is a fancy way of saying embedded librarian. I'm also Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. When not writing for Environmental News Bits, I'm an avid reader. Visit Laura's Reads to see what I'm currently reading.

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