Selected category: TSCA Reform

Separating fact from fancy in the TSCA Inventory reset mandated by the Lautenberg Act

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

A key reform under the Lautenberg Act is the requirement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) generate an accurate, up-to-date list of all chemicals in active commerce.  This is to be accomplished by promulgating a rule to do a full “reset” of the TSCA Inventory that distinguishes between active and inactive chemicals.  It is necessary because the 85,000 chemicals on that Inventory represent a cumulative listing of all chemicals that have been in commerce at some point since its establishment in 1979, but no doubt includes many that are not now in commerce.

I have blogged previously about why it is important that EPA and the public know how many and which chemicals are in use today in the U.S.  Among other reasons, it is essential that we understand the magnitude of the task that awaits EPA under the new TSCA, with respect to prioritization, risk evaluation, risk management, and substantiation and review of confidential business information (CBI) claims.  That has implications for the pace of the program and the resources EPA will need to do its job, which extends ultimately to reviewing the safety of all chemicals in commerce.

EDF provided EPA with our comments on what should be included in EPA’s upcoming rule establishing the Inventory reset.  Unfortunately, comments on that rule received from some in industry indicate that they are seeking to limit the Inventory reset in ways that are not allowed under the new law and are short-sighted or even counterproductive to the purpose of the reset.  I provide a critique here of three of those proposed limitations.   Read More »

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

Getting engaged … in shaping implementation of the new TSCA

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

When President Obama signed the Lautenberg Act into law in June, it marked the beginning of a new phase in the long battle to improve chemical safety. Much of the success or failure of the new law now hinges on how well it is implemented. There are both a critical need and numerous opportunities for those who have a stake in improving our chemical safety system to engage in shaping how the law will be implemented.

To that end, EDF has developed an Engagement Guide that provides an overview of some of the key provisions in the Lautenberg Act and associated opportunities for stakeholder engagement, including:

  • Safety Standard and Vulnerable Subpopulations
  • Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals
  • Prioritizing Chemicals in Use
  • Risk Evaluations of Existing Chemicals Deemed High-Priority
  • First Chemicals to be Reviewed
  • Restrictions on Chemicals that Present an Unreasonable Risk
  • New Chemicals Entering the Market
  • Transparency and Information Access
  • Legal Recourses
  • Preemption of State Authority

I hope you find it useful!

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

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, Health Science| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

EPA issues first decisions mandated under the new TSCA

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

Today, EPA posted on its website risk determinations for four new chemicals it has reviewed under the new standards prescribed by the Lautenberg Act.  While the premanufacture notices (PMNs) for these chemicals were received by EPA prior to the June 22 signing of the new TSCA, EPA has reviewed them in the context of the new requirements.  (Unlike reviews of chemicals already in use, which may take some years to conduct, EPA reviews of new chemicals are generally to be completed within 90 days, which is why we’re already seeing these appear so soon after enactment.)

These decisions are notable in that they are the very first formal decisions EPA has made under the new law.  Based on an admittedly quick review of the decisions, I’ll offer a few observations.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy| Tagged , | Read 1 Response

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, Health Science| Tagged , , | Read 2 Responses

Understanding basic process flows under the new TSCA

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

As an additional resource for people delving into the new Lautenberg Act that was signed by President Obama last week, I have developed some flow charts depicting the basic processes applicable to existing chemicals already in commerce and new chemicals prior to market entry.

Comparisons are shown between the processes under the old and new laws.

A PDF version is available here; or click on the thumbnails below.


FRL21-TSCA flowcharts 6-28-16 Slide1FRL21-TSCA flowcharts 6-28-16 Slide2FRL21-TSCA flowcharts 6-28-16 Slide3FRL21-TSCA flowcharts 6-28-16 Slide4

Also posted in Health Policy| Tagged | Comments are closed
  • About this blog

    Science, health, and business experts at Environmental Defense Fund comment on chemical and nanotechnology issues of the day.
    Our work: Chemicals

  • Stay Updated

    Get blog posts and breaking news to your email inbox.

  • Filter posts by tags

    • aggregate exposure (10)
    • American Chemistry Council (ACC) (57)
    • asthma (4)
    • Australia (1)
    • biomonitoring (9)
    • bipartisan (6)
    • bisphenol A (22)
    • BP Oil Disaster (18)
    • Canada (7)
    • carbon nanotubes (24)
    • carcinogen (22)
    • Carcinogenic Mutagenic or Toxic for Reproduction (CMR) (12)
    • Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) (13)
    • chemical identity (32)
    • chemical testing (4)
    • Chemicals in Commerce Act (3)
    • Chicago Tribune (6)
    • children's safety (24)
    • China (10)
    • Confidential Business Information (CBI) (59)
    • conflict of interest (8)
    • consumer products (52)
    • Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) (4)
    • cumulative exposure (4)
    • data requirements (47)
    • DuPont (11)
    • endocrine disruption (30)
    • exposure and hazard (49)
    • FDA (14)
    • fees (1)
    • flame retardants (25)
    • formaldehyde (15)
    • front group (13)
    • general interest (22)
    • Globally Harmonized System (GHS) (5)
    • Government Accountability Office (5)
    • High Production Volume (HPV) (23)
    • industry tactics (44)
    • inhalation (18)
    • IUR/CDR (27)
    • Japan (3)
    • Lautenberg Act (43)
    • MCHM (1)
    • National Academy of Sciences (NAS) (20)
    • National Toxicology Program (1)
    • New chemicals (5)
    • Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) (3)
    • oil dispersant (18)
    • PBDEs (19)
    • Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) (22)
    • pesticides (7)
    • PFOA (1)
    • prioritization (37)
    • report on carcinogens (1)
    • revised CSIA (4)
    • risk assessment (71)
    • risk evaluation (1)
    • Safe Chemicals Act (24)
    • Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (33)
    • Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) (21)
    • Small business (1)
    • styrene (6)
    • Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) (15)
    • test rule (18)
    • trichloroethylene (TCE) (5)
    • TSCA inventory (1)
    • TSCA Modernization Act (14)
    • U.S. states (17)
    • worker safety (23)
    • WV chemical spill (12)