Selected category: Health Science

EDF files comments on three TSCA rules EPA is developing

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

Yesterday was the deadline for stakeholders to file written comments on three rules EPA is now developing, as required under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA as amended by the Lautenberg Act).  EPA is moving quickly to get input on these rules, which it intends to propose in December in order to stay on track to finalize the rules by June of next year, as mandated under the new law.

The solicitation of written comments follows public meetings EPA held on August 9, 10 and 11 to get input from stakeholders on these rules, at which dozens of stakeholders provided oral comments.  Those meetings were the first EPA public meetings since the Lautenberg Act was signed into law on June 22.

The three rules (and associated docket numbers) on which EPA solicited comments are:

  • Risk-Based Prioritization Procedural Rule, which will set forth the process and criteria EPA will use to prioritize chemicals in commerce. Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0399
  • Risk Evaluation Procedural Rule, which will set forth the process EPA will use to conduct risk evaluations of high-priority and industry-requested chemicals. Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0400
  • Rule Establishing Fees for the Administration of TSCA, which will detail how EPA will collect fees from companies to defray the costs of administering core activities under the new law. Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0401

EDF filed comments yesterday on all three rules, available here, here and here.

Several of the key recommendations from each of our comments follow.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

We appear to have gotten lucky in the January 2014 West Virginia chemical spill

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

[UPDATE:  Please see additions below.  On reflection, my "got lucky" theme here may well have been a poor choice, as I certainly did not mean to imply that the spill was anything other than a nightmare for affected residents; rather, it was my attempt to again highlight the extent to which officials were flying blind at the time due to numerous systemic failures.  While the NTP study I discuss here answers some questions and I believe is cause for some relief, it did not address all concerns, leaves considerable uncertainty, and doesn't begin to undo the damage of this incident and its continuing aftermath.  Apologies to anyone who took my phrase to imply otherwise.]

Readers may recall that I blogged extensively about the January 2014 spill of chemicals into the Elk River near Charleston from tanks used to store the chemical near the river’s edge, which disrupted the drinking water supply and the lives of 300,000 residents for many weeks thereafter.

A key concern was the dearth of health data – both publicly available and otherwise – on the key chemical components of the spilled mixture, which was used to wash coal.  As I reported in a series of blog posts, despite scant data, federal and state officials rushed to establish – and then defend their establishment of – a concentration of one part per million (1 ppm) as the “safe” level of the main component, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), of the spilled mixture.  I pointed to the lack of a scientific basis for that level, largely because of the lack of adequate health information.

That remained the case even after the chemical’s producer, Eastman Chemical, decided to make public its studies of the chemical that it had hidden, claiming them to constitute trade secrets.  I tried to be careful not to claim MCHM or other spilled chemicals posed health risks, but rather that the lack of safety data was highly concerning, given the widespread extent of exposure.

Among the many outcomes of the spill was an agreement by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to undertake a thorough study of the potential health and environmental effects of MCHM and other component chemicals.  That study is now complete, and the results were released last week.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , | Read 2 Responses

Protecting our most TENDR: Experts Call for Reducing Children’s Exposure to Neurodevelopmental Toxicants

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist with the Health Program.

Today, a prominent group of health care professionals, scientists, and advocates including EDF published a consensus statement highlighting the significant scientific evidence linking impacts on children’s brain development to exposures to certain toxic chemicals.

Beginning in utero, children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals and exposures occurring early in development can result in lasting, later life outcomes. The TENDR (Targeting Environmental NeuroDevelopmental Risks) Consensus Statement, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, outlines troubling statistics on the high incidences of neurological disorders in children, ranging from ADHD and other behavioral disorders to reduced IQ. Some  of the exemplar chemicals featured in the statement include the PBDE flame retardants, phthalates, air pollution, and lead—all harmful chemicals that EDF has blogged about and been working to address through policy improvements, better exposure monitoring tools, and market action.

A number of factors contribute to neurological disorders, but exposure to neurodevelopmental toxicants is preventable. The TENDR statement calls on government, the business community, and health professionals to all redouble efforts to reduce children’s exposures to neurodevelopmental toxicants. We applaud the broad set of individuals and organizations that came together to develop and support the TENDR consensus statement, and hope that it will catalyze actions to protect children from chemicals that adversely impact their brain development.


Also posted in Air Pollution, Emerging Science, Food, Health Policy| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Fossil fuels don’t just change the climate, they impact our children’s health

Jonathan Choi, chemicals policy fellow, and Ananya Roy, health scientist, coauthored this post.


© Joel Pett, USA Today, Published December 2009

© Joel Pett, USA Today, Published December 2009

It was December 2009. The newly elected President Barack Obama was spending his first Christmas in the White House, the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” was at the top of the Billboard year end charts, and the iPhone 3GS was the new kid on the block. Meanwhile, the environmental community’s eyes were turned towards Copenhagen, where climate negotiators were working to try to craft a lasting international agreement on emissions. In the middle of the negotiations, Joel Pett published a comic in USA Today (reposted here), which has stuck in the minds of a lot of us who spend time thinking about environmental issues.

So when a recent scientific review by Dr. Frederica Perera at Columbia University came to the scientists on our team, we couldn’t help but remember the point Joel made with his poignant graphic back in 2009. Namely, that by reducing fossil fuel combustion we can not only reduce our impact on climate change, but that we can have cleaner air and healthier children. The review draws our attention to the unique effect that fossil fuel combustion has on children’s health, both by accelerating climate change and by increasing their exposure to air pollutants. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Emerging Science| Tagged , , | Read 1 Response

Wearable wristbands detect flame retardants

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN) recently featured an article on simple, silicone wristbands used to detect chemicals in the everyday environment. Developed by researchers from Oregon State University, these wearable wristbands act like sponges to absorb chemicals in the air, water and everyday consumer products. EDF sees exciting promise in this technology, and has begun using this tool to make the invisible world of chemicals, visible.

The C&EN article highlighted two new studies which used the wristbands to characterize flame retardant exposure – the first two published studies to demonstrate that the wristband technology can be effectively used for this purpose.

There is good reason to explore flame retardant exposure. A 1975 California flammability standard resulted in the addition of flame retardant chemicals to hundreds of millions of foam products in the U.S. including couches and foam baby products. As furniture and other products get old and breakdown, flame retardants are released into surrounding air and settle in the dust in our homes. Evidence from the CDC’s National Biomonitoring Program demonstrates that 99% of people tested have polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in their body, and other studies indicate that children are more highly exposed to flame retardants than adults. Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Science, Emerging Testing Methods| Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Unfulfilled: EPA’s 2009 commitment to fix lead-based paint hazard standard

In 2009, EPA committed to fix its rule identifying dangerous levels of lead. The evidence since then has only gotten more compelling. EPA needs to fulfill its commitment and revise the rule consistent with the recommendations of its own Science Advisory Board.

Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director.

In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama, supported by then-Senator Hillary Clinton, forced the Bush administration to issue a long-overdue rule to ensure contractors used lead-safe work practices when conducting renovations, repairs, and painting work at homes and child-occupied facilities. So when Senator Obama became President Obama, there was tremendous promise for advances in lead poisoning prevention.

By the second half of 2009, it appeared that promise was turning into reality. Under President Obama’s leadership, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made lead poisoning prevention a priority and undertook a series of important commitments to protect children. Despite that initial success, many of those prevention efforts were foundering by late 2010. Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Testing Methods, EPA, Health Policy, lead, Regulation, Uncategorized| Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed
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