EDF Health

Selected tag(s): trichloroethylene (TCE)

With TCE, EPA proposes first toxic chemical ban in 27 years under TSCA

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

Today, EPA issued a proposed rule to ban uses of trichloroethylene (TCE) as a spot cleaning agent in dry cleaning and as an aerosol spray degreaser in commercial and consumer settings. This marks the first time in 27 years EPA is proposing to restrict the use of a chemical and represents a significant milestone under the Lautenberg Act.

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Early disconnect between industry rhetoric and actions under the new TSCA?

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

It was more than a bit heartening that, even post-election, chemical industry representatives have been publicly urging that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) should continue apace.

So it pains me greatly to be reading that some in industry are aggressively pressing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to block at least one of EPA’s proposals to restrict certain very high-risk uses of trichloroethylene (TCE), which focuses on TCE’s use in commercial vapor degreasing operations.  As reported late last week by Inside EPA (subscription required), industry representatives have asked OMB not to even allow EPA to issue its proposal for public comment, despite the fact that the industry and the rest of the public have yet to see it.

These are the first risk reduction actions EPA is proposing to take under the Lautenberg Act, which passed earlier this year with strong bipartisan support.  Industry supported the new law, saying it accepted the need to give EPA stronger authority to identify and restrict dangerous uses of chemicals in order to help restore public confidence in the nation’s chemical safety system.  So why are some now seeking to block the very first actions taken under the new law?  This type of behavior— fighting even limited steps by EPA to address even the riskiest of chemicals—is what brought about this crisis in confidence in the first place.   Read More »

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EPA moves one step closer to managing risks from TCE

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

It’s no secret that trichloroethylene (TCE) is a nasty chemical.  A 2013 review of thousands of scientific studies by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists concluded that TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and poses additional hazards, including immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and adverse effects on the developing heart.  TCE’s link to cancer has been confirmed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS),  the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

With such a track record, one would expect that the U.S. government has restricted its use, right?  Wrong.  The current annual U.S. production of TCE is 250 million pounds – so, not surprisingly, human and environmental exposure is widespread.  While most TCE is used in industrial and commercial settings as a chemical intermediate in the production of other chemicals, it’s also commonly used as a metal degreasing agent and spot cleaner in commercial dry cleaning, and can be found in certain consumer products. Read More »

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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 »

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More “A”-level work under REACH: ECHA adds eight chemicals to the Authorization List

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

The European Commission has formally added eight more chemicals to the list of chemicals subject to authorization under the European Union’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).  These eight chemicals, which were proposed for addition to the Authorization List (or Annex XIV) in December 2010, join the six inaugural chemicals that were formally listed last February (see EDF’s blog post on that occasion).  The full Authorization List is available on ECHA’s website; the list also specifies the corresponding sunset date by which time uses of a chemical must cease unless specifically authorized. Read More »

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REACH starts to earn its “A”: 20 chemicals headed to the Candidate List and 13 to Authorization

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been busy this week implementing the EU’s chemical regulation, REACH (short for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals).

On Monday, ECHA announced it has added 20 more Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) to REACH’s Candidate List.  These SVHCs are now eligible for later addition to Annex XIV, the list of SVHCs subject to Authorization.

Separately, the agency today forwarded its final recommendation that 13 chemicals already on the Candidate List be formally added to Annex XIV.  (We had blogged earlier about ECHA’s initial recommendation proposing these 13 SVHCs for Authorization.)  If the European Commission confirms this addition, after a specified sunset date, the use of these will be allowed only if specifically authorized by EU authorities.  Read More »

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