Selected category: Regulation

TSCA reform legislation: Consideration of costs and other non-risk factors

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

Part 1              Part 2              Part 3              Part 4              Part 5

[NOTES:  (1) This post reflects the latest versions of TSCA reform legislation:

(2) All of the earlier posts in this series have been updated to reflect these latest versions.]

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts looking at less talked-about, but critically important, elements of bipartisan legislative proposals to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  This post deals with how costs and other non-risk considerations factor into safety and regulatory risk management decisions.   Read More »

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

Evidence grows linking DEHP exposure to reproductive toxicity: What is the state of regulation?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

Phthalates are chemical plasticizers found in a wide array of industrial and consumer products, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping and tubing, cosmetics, medical devices, plastic toys, and food contact materials.  Because phthalates are often not strongly chemically bound to these products, they can leach out of those products and into the environment around us. Given this, it may not be surprising that phthalates and their metabolites can be measured in the bodies of nearly all people tested.

This post reports on important new research on DEHP and summarizes the state of regulation of the chemical in the U.S. and abroad.   Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Science, EU REACH, Health Policy, Health Science, States| Tagged | Comments are closed

EPA identifies another risky chemical: Can it succeed in using TSCA to restrict it?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

Last week, EPA released a risk assessment on the chemical N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP).  NMP is produced and imported into the U.S. in huge quantities (184 million pounds reported in 2012), and has a variety of uses including petrochemical processing, making plastics, and paint stripping.

Experiments in laboratory animals demonstrate that exposure to NMP during pregnancy leads to adverse developmental outcomes in the offspring, such as low birth weight, skeletal malformations, and mortality (see here and here).

EPA’s assessment focused exclusively on NMP exposure from its presence in products used to remove paint and other coatings.  Because of NMP’s potential to disrupt fetal development, EPA assessed exposures in women of childbearing age.

EPA found that exposure to NMP-based paint strippers in women of childbearing age beyond four hours per day presents risks that cannot be mitigated from use of protective gear such as gloves and respirators.  Risks obviously could be greater, even for shorter exposure times, if protective equipment is not consistently used.   Read More »

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

A Columnist Wonders: Can Congress Do Its Job?

Jack Pratt is Chemicals Campaign Director

“It’s not that members of Congress don’t work hard…yet they regularly manage to avoid accomplishing anything even on those matters on which they overwhelmingly agree,” observed Melinda Hennebergert this morning in Bloomberg Politics.

She was talking, in part, about the new bill to reform America’s broken chemical safety law. Everyone agrees the current system is a national disgrace, preventing the EPA from banning even known carcinogens like asbestos. Yet there’s fierce opposition to the only legislative vehicle that could successfully change things.

Hennebergert notes that some opponents to the bill, which has co-sponsors across the ideological and partisan spectrum, object to the fact that it is a compromise necessary to pass Congress. She calls it the “half-a-loaf or none conundrum” and says that “in the increasingly rare cases of bipartisan agreement, paralyzing pushback” now seems inevitable.

Her frustration is clear, especially since “it has already been 26 years since any environmental bill of this magnitude (1990's Clean Air Act) has passed.”

She notes that some opponents of the bill favor alternative legislation – a bill without bipartisan sponsors or the compromises necessary to gain traction. It’s an all or nothing approach and, with it, “nothing is just what citizens may get.”

The question is, can Congress prove her wrong and get something big done to protect public health and the environment?

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

More than skin-deep: Have we underestimated the role of dermal exposures to BPA?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research AnalystRichard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, and has been associated with health effects such as premature puberty and developmental neurotoxicity.  Massive quantities of BPA – about 10 billion pounds and rising – are produced each year, making it one of the highest volume chemicals in commerce.  For that reason alone, it may not be surprising that scientists find BPA in the urine of nearly all people they test. 

It has generally been thought that exposure to BPA primarily comes from dietary sources (see here and here) due to its use in food packaging products such as metal cans and polycarbonate bottles.  Based on these concerns and market pressure, FDA amended its regulations to no longer provide for the use of BPA-based materials in baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula packaging, and France passed a law banning BPA in all food packaging containers as a precautionary measure. 

However, there is growing evidence that non-dietary sources of BPA exposure may be important.  One potentially overlooked but significant source of exposure is the use of BPA to make thermal receipts, which are commonly used in cash registers and ATMs.  Unlike BPA used to make food packaging, which uses polymerized or otherwise chemically bound BPA molecules, thermal receipts are coated with BPA in free form, only loosely attached to the paper.

A study just published by researchers at the University of Missouri and the Universite de Toulouse suggests that we may be underestimating the role of dermal exposure to BPA from handling of thermal receipts, especially in certain common settings.  The researchers tested the impact that use of a hand sanitizer immediately preceding handling a thermal paper receipt has on the transfer and absorption of BPA.  Hand sanitizers and other skin care products may contain chemicals called “dermal penetration enhancers,” which increase skin permeability, for example, to facilitate drug delivery.  Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Science, Health Policy, Health Science, Uncategorized| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Missing the forest for the trees? Are we addressing the biggest risks from exposure to phthalates?

Lindsay McCormick is a Research AnalystRichard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist

A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives is the first to demonstrate a link between childhood asthma and prenatal exposure to certain phthalates.  Phthalates are a group of chemical plasticizers used in hundreds of everyday products, including home construction materials, toys, food packaging, medical devices, and synthetic fragrances found in personal care products, cleaning products, cosmetics, and air fresheners.  For the most part, it is impossible for the average consumer to know what products are made with phthalates; however, if you see the word “fragrance” listed on your shampoo or sun screen, it may well contain a phthalate.  

Several studies have suggested that phthalate exposure may have an adverse impact on children’s respiratory health (for example, see here, here, and here).   However, none of these studies has considered the potential role of prenatal exposure – exposures to the fetus in the womb – to phthalates.

The prenatal period is a critical developmental window for lung and respiratory health.  Thus, researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) hypothesized that prenatal phthalate exposure would be associated with later development of asthma in childhood.  To investigate this hypothesis, the researchers measured phthalate metabolite levels in the urine of 300 women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and then followed the children of these women to assess the extent to which they developed asthma between the ages of 5 and 11.  Read More »

Also posted in Emerging Science, Health Policy, Health Science| Tagged , , | Read 2 Responses
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