Newly listed carcinogens are all chemicals deeply embedded in US commerce

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist. 

[CORRECTION 10/4/14:  The company identified at the bottom of the table in this post as importing pentachlorophenol has been corrected to be KMG CHEMICALS; the original post had erroneously identified the company as ALBEMARLE.]

Yesterday the National Toxicology Program (NTP) released its 13th Report on Carcinogens.  This periodic, Congressionally mandated report lists substances classified after a rigorous scientific review as either “known” or “reasonably anticipated” to be human carcinogens.

The 13th report includes 4 new listings:

  • ortho-Toluidine, used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides, and dyes, was upgraded from its prior listing as “reasonably anticipated” to now be listed as a known human carcinogen, based on studies in humans showing it causes urinary bladder cancer.
  • Three chemicals are listed for the first time, each as reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens:
    • 1-bromopropane, used as a cleaning solvent and spray adhesive, inhalation of which has been shown in animal studies to produces tumors in the skin, lungs, and large intestine;
    • cumene, used to make phenol and acetone, inhalation of which has been shown in animal studies to produces tumors in the lungs and liver; and
    • pentachlorophenol, a wood preservative mixture, exposure to which increases risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in studies in humans and causes tumors in the liver and other organs in mice.

EDF used the latest available data on the production and import of industrial chemicals collected by EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ascertain the extent to which these four chemicals are manufactured and used in the U.S.  These data demonstrate that the four substances are all present in U.S. commerce in very large amounts, considered by EPA to be high production volume (HPV) chemicals because their manufacture exceeds one million pounds annually.  In fact, all four chemicals are present in amounts far higher than that level, as shown below. 

We also used EPA data to identify the specific companies that make or import each chemical, summarized just below and listed in the table further below.  Two of these chemicals are included in our Toxics Across America report and interactive map; click on the hyperlinked chemical names below to see the specific companies and sites reporting those two chemicals:

  • ortho-toluidine:  60 million pounds annually
    • reported imported by 4 companies
  • 1-bromopropane:   15 million pounds annually
    • reported produced by 1 company, imported by 3 companies, with 1 company claiming its identity and activity as confidential business information (CBI)
  • cumene:  37 billion pounds annually
    • reported produced by 9 companies, imported by 3 companies, with 2 companies claiming their activity as CBI
  • pentachlorophenol:  9 million pounds annually
    • reported imported by 1 company

As shown in the table below, nearly all of the reporting companies claimed the amount of each chemical they produce or import to be CBI.

Nonetheless, the data show just how deeply embedded these known and suspected carcinogens are in U.S. commerce.

Chemical name

CAS #

Company

Mfr’d?

Mfr Volume (lbs.)

Imp’d?

Imp Volume (lbs.)

o-Toluidine (aka 2-Aminotoluene or Benzenamine, 2-methyl-)

95-53-4

AC&S INC

No

Yes

CBI

GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

LANXESS CORP

No

Yes

CBI

MONSANTO CO

No

Yes

23,419,290

Chemical name

CAS #

Company

Mfr’d?

Mfr Volume (lbs.)

Imp’d?

Imp Volume (lbs.)

1-Bromopropane (aka n-Propyl bromide, nPB or Propane, 1-bromo)

106-94-5

ALBEMARLE CORP

Yes

CBI

No

DOW CHEMICAL CO

No

Yes

CBI

ICL

No

Yes

CBI

SPECIAL MATERIALS CO

No

Yes

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

Chemical name

CAS #

Company

Mfr’d?

Mfr Volume (lbs.)

Imp’d?

Imp Volume (lbs.)

Cumene (aka Benzene, (1-methylethyl)-)

98-82-8

E I DU PONT DE NEMOURS & CO

Yes

CBI

SUNOCO INC

Yes

31,000,000,000

 

 

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

OCEAN INVESTMENTS CORP

CBI

CBI

CBI

CBI

CITGO PETROLEUM CORP

Yes

1,303,795,765

 

 

HAVERHILL CHEMICALS LLC

Yes

1,034,558

 

 

CALUMET SPECIALTY PRODUCTS PARTNERS LP

Yes

517,000

 

 

GEORGIA GULF CORP

Yes

1,457,513,000

 

 

BASF CORP

 

 

Yes

CBI

BLUE ISLAND PHENOL LLC

Yes

116,576,070

 

 

DOW CHEMICAL CO

 

 

Yes

CBI

SHELL CHEMICAL LP

Yes

1,393,099,929

 

 

MARATHON OIL CORP

Yes

630,000,000

 

 

KOCH INDUSTRIES INC

Yes

CBI

 

 

Chemical name

CAS #

Company

Mfr’d?

Mfr Volume (lbs.)

Imp’d?

Imp Volume (lbs.)

Pentachlorophenol (aka Phenol, 2,3,4,5,6-pentachloro-)

87-86-5

KMG CHEMICALS

No

Yes

8,982,424

 

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