Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On September 6, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT), the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Environment and on Oversight will hold a joint hearing on “Examining the Scientific and Operational Integrity of EPA’s IRIS Program.”  The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:

  • Dr. Kenneth Mundt, Principal, Ramboll Environ;
  • Dr. James Bus, Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent; and
  • Dr. Thomas Burke, former Deputy Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) and EPA’s Science Advisor under former President Obama; Johns Hopkins University.

President Trump’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2018 would have eliminated EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, although the IRIS Program is included in the final budget request.  The EPA Science Advisory Board’s (SAB) August 29-30, 2017, meeting included an update from ORD’s National Center for Environmental Assessment on the IRIS Program.  According to the presentation, IRIS is working to increase transparency and full implementation of systematic review; modernize the IRIS Program; modularize product lines; and enhance accessibility.  Other IRIS improvements include implementing “next generation IRIS” and improved management practices.  During the meeting, the SAB agreed to send a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in support of the IRIS Program.

Tags: IRIS, SAB, Hearing,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 14, 2017, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) announced it would be forming a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals Coalition.  That the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now required to make a determination on all new chemicals (or significant new uses of existing chemicals) is at the heart of the changes in EPA’s review of new chemicals, and the new policies and practices that have emerged since June of 2016.  What is less clear is how EPA is making these determinations.  The coalition’s mission is to prepare meaningful comments and offer constructive, helpful, and informed improvements to the new chemicals review process. 

Joining the coalition is easy.  We are asking for a flat fee of $1,000 per company for a 12 month period.  We are not currently allowing trade associations to join.  The chemical community has participated in ad hoc coalitions for years, so the drill is familiar.  Dues will be used to:

  • Convene meetings and calls;
  • Develop advocacy positions on crucial issues to be decided and prioritized, including preparing for EPA’s Fall 2017 release of documents on how it reviews new chemicals; and
  • Provide informed and effective comment on these issues and meet with EPA leadership to advocate for the Coalition’s views on these issues.

More information is available in our memorandum Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. Forms “TSCA New Chemicals Coalition.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
  
On August 7, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release stating that it has eliminated the new chemical backlog of over 600 chemicals:  “[t]he current caseload is back at the baseline and now in line with the typical active workload.”  The press release also announces improvements to new chemical safety reviews, which include operating principles, improvement of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) new chemicals program, and further transparency, as detailed below. 

EPA states it is committing to the following operating principles in its review of new chemicals:

  • Where the intended uses in premanufacture notices (PMN) or other TSCA Section 5 notices (such as low volume exemption (LVE) requests) raise risk concerns, EPA will work with submitters, and, if the submitters submit timely amended PMNs addressing those concerns, EPA will generally make determinations based on those amended submissions.
  • Where EPA has concerns with reasonably foreseen uses, but not with the intended uses as described in a PMN or LVE application, as a general matter, those concerns can be addressed through significant new use rules.
  • As described in the risk evaluation rule released on June 22, 2017, identification of reasonably foreseen conditions of use will be fact-specific.  It is reasonable to foresee a condition of use, for example, where facts suggest the activity is not only possible, but, over time under proper conditions, probable. 
  • The purpose of testing in a Section 5 order is to reduce uncertainty in regard to risk.  Specifically, it is to address risk concerns that gave rise to a finding of “may present unreasonable risk” or another Section 5 finding other than “not likely to present unreasonable risk.”  In addition, consistent with the statute, any request for testing by EPA will be structured to reduce and replace animal testing as appropriate.

EPA states it will continue to improve of its TSCA new chemicals program in the following ways:

  • Redeploying staff to increase the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff working on new chemicals;
  • Initiating a LEAN exercise (via EPA’s new time-saving and cost-effective tools) to streamline work processes around new chemicals review; and
  • Institutionalizing a voluntary pre-submission consultation process so that submitters have a clear understanding of what information will be most useful for EPA’s review of their new chemical submission, and of what they can expect from EPA during the review process.  While such engagement prior to submission is an additional up-front time and resource commitment by submitters and EPA, it should more than pay for itself with faster, better-informed EPA reviews.

EPA states it needs to be more transparent in how it makes decisions on new chemicals under TSCA, and will be instituting the following to implement that goal:

  • In Fall 2017, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) intends to release, for public comment and stakeholder engagement, draft documents that will provide the public with more certainty and clarity regarding how EPA makes new chemical determinations and what external information will help facilitate these determinations;
  • EPA will facilitate a public dialogue on its goal of continued improvement in the new chemicals review program; and
  • EPA will continue posting weekly web updates of program statistics, so that manufacturers and the public can determine the disposition of cases as quickly as possible.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Margaret R. Graham

On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two notices in the Federal Register expressing its determination that 28 new chemical notifications are “not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.”  82 Fed Reg. 19044 (Statement of Findings for December 2016); 82 Fed. Reg. 19046 (Statements of Findings for February 2017).  The statements of findings list premanufacture notices (PMN) and microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN) regarding new polymer and biodegradable chemicals submitted to EPA under Section 5 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The notices listed in the December 2016 statement of findings are:

The notices listed in the February 2017 statement of findings are:

Commentary

The publication of these two notices fulfills EPA’s obligation under TSCA Section 5(g) to publish its findings; all of these determinations had previously been posted to the EPA website.  It is to EPA’s credit that EPA has made its determinations public as soon as practicable by posting those determinations on its website.  We recognize that publication in the Federal Register often lags behind EPA’s decisions because of resource constraints and competition with other Federal Register notices.  We are pleased to see new chemicals cleared for production.

Nevertheless, EPA’s pace of approving new chemicals for the marketplace has slowed tremendously since enactment of TSCA reform.  Furthermore, these notices do not provide any line of sight on the reasons contributing to the delays, or EPA’s resolution of these issues.  To date, EPA has only published its final determinations for substances with low concerns for heath and ecological hazards.  With only 28 new chemicals approved from the time period of December 1, 2016, to February 28, 2017, EPA will need to work much faster to even come close to its annual average number of 700-800 PMN reviews and keep the backlog of cases under review from continuing to grow.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just announced that its Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) is holding a meeting on December 14, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (EST) to update the public on changes to the New Chemicals Review Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.  EPA states that it will “describe its review process for new chemicals under the amended statute, as well as discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities that the Agency has identified in the first few months of implementation.”  During the meeting, interested parties will have the opportunity to provide input on their experiences with the New Chemicals Review Program, including submittal of pre-manufacture notices (PMN), microbial commercial activities notices (MCAN), and significant new use notices (SNUN), under TSCA Section 5.  EPA states that information obtained during this meeting and from submitted written comments will be considered as it works to implement the new requirements and increase efficiency in its review process under TSCA. 

There has been considerable concern with the impact of new TSCA on EPA’s New Chemicals Program.  EPA is to be recognized for seeking stakeholder input, and interested parties should come to the meeting with thoughtful questions and clear expectations as to what stakeholders can reasonably achieve from the meeting.  This could be the first of several such meetings to help interested parties understand the processes OPPT is developing in response to new TSCA, add greater transparency to those processes, and to assist EPA as appropriate with implementing the new law.

In-person and webinar registration is available now.  EPA is requesting that interested parties register by December 13, 2016.  Written comments will be accepted via www.regulations.gov under Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0658.  More information on new chemicals review under amended TSCA is available in our memorandum TSCA Reform:  An Analysis of Key Provisions and Fundamental Shifts in the Amended TSCA.


 

By Charles M. Auer and Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D.

On September 21, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) announced its regulatory determinations for a batch of Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN) and premanufacture notices (PMN).

The announcement by EPA consisted of ten new microorganisms submitted as MCANs and seven new chemicals submitted as PMNs.  All microorganisms and chemical substances were determined “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” (per Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5(a)(3)(C)).  This determination was based in all cases on the low hazard of the microorganism or the chemical substance.  The microorganisms and chemical substances are:

MCANs:

  • J-16-0010:  Generic: Saccharomyces cerevisiae modified;
  • J-16-0011, J-16-0012, J-16-0013, J-16-0014, J-16-0015, and J-16-0016:  Generic:  Biofuel Producing Organism;
  • J-16-0017:  Generic: Saccharomyces cerevisiae modified;
  • J-16-0018:  Generic: Saccharomyces cerevisiae modified; and
  • J-16-0006:  Generic: Trichoderma reesei modified.

PMNs:

  • P-16-0343 and P-16-0344:  Generic:  Modified urethane polymer;
  • P-16-0391:  Generic:  Polyester polyol polymer with aliphatic isocyanate and phenol derivates;
  • P-16-0366: Generic:  Blocked polyisocyanate;
  • P-16-0373:  Generic:  Tris(alkyloxyphenyl)triazine compounds;
  • P-16-0466:  Generic:  2,5-Furandione, telomer with ethenylbenzene and (alkylethyl)benzene, amides with polyethylene-polypropylene glycol aminoalkyl Me ether, alkali salts; and
  • P-16-0348:  Generic: Polypentaerythritol, mixed esters with linear and branched monoacids.

In both types of submissions, the EPA reports are facilitated by the use of templates.  The footnotes in the template describe the approach and methodology followed to identify uses and to determine persistence, bioaccumulation, human health hazard, and environmental hazard. 

The MCAN template includes three footnotes that describe:  (1) identification of “known” and “reasonably foreseen” uses; (2) criteria for human health hazard; and (3) criteria for ecological hazard.

The PMN template includes seven footnotes that describe:  (1) identification of “known” and “reasonably foreseen” uses; (2) criteria for persistence; (3) criteria for bioaccumulation; (4) criteria for human health hazard ranking; (5) criteria for ecological hazard ranking; (6) link to the TSCA New Chemicals Program Chemical Categories; and (7) link to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2014 Guidance on Grouping of Chemicals.   The OECD link and a link to the Sustainable Futures Manual within footnote 5 are obsolete.

The ecological hazard ranking criteria are consistent with OPPT’s past practice.  The human health ranking criteria departs from practice by using a single descriptor for all endpoints.  Other approaches that EPA has used for several years utilize criteria that address specific end points.  Examples include the ChAMP (Chemical Assessment and Management Program) Methodology and the section 8(e) program.

Risk Determinations

For the MCANs, the “unlikely to present” determination is based on the human health hazard criteria identified in the template for human health hazard:  “a microorganism is considered to have low human health hazard if it is not known to be a frank human pathogen that causes disease in healthy adults, and/or animal studies have demonstrated a lack of pathogenicity or toxicity”; and “a microorganism is considered to be of low ecological hazard if it is not known to be an animal or plant pathogen, and the genetic modifications do not impart pathogenic or toxigenic traits, and the introduced genetic material does not provide a selective growth advantage in outcompeting indigenous microbial communities in the environment.”

For the chemical substances, estimates indicated that the majority of these chemicals were persistent or very persistent and bioaccumulation potential was low for all chemicals.  Human health hazard was determined by using a combination of physicochemical properties and structural analogs.  Ecological hazard determinations utilized analog information and, as appropriate, estimates made by the Ecological Structure Activity Relationships (ECOSAR) Class Program.  Exposure estimates were not conducted based of the low hazard concern from which followed the “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” determination.


 

On July 18, 2016, Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Environmental Report reported on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new chemical notice process, and included insight from industry leaders at Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) July 14, 2016, webinar, The New TSCA: Impacts on New and Existing Chemicals Programs. 

B&C Managing Partner Lynn L. Bergeson was quoted as saying that premanufacture notifications, or PMNs, that chemical manufacturers must submit before they can produce or import a new chemical, and significant new use notifications, which companies must submit before they can make or use certain chemicals in new ways, “need to be much more strategic, thoughtful and detailed.”

Both the old and newly amended TSCA state the EPA's “authority over chemical substances and mixtures should be exercised in such a manner as to not impede unduly or create unnecessary economic barriers to technological innovation,” Bergeson stated, referring to Section 2601(b)(3).  The new law makes “very consequential changes” to the new chemicals provisions of TSCA as EPA will have to balance carefully the requirements imposed by different sections of the law.

Richard A. Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, stated that the changes the amended law makes to EPA's new chemicals program “are not trivial.”  Further, the changes will make it easier for the public to understand why EPA concludes that new chemicals may or may not enter commerce, what restrictions it may impose on the uses of those chemicals, and why.

BNA’s article, “Detailed New Chemical Applications Needed to Boost Market Chances: Attorneys,” is available online, through paid subscription.


 

If you are having trouble understanding basic process flows under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), please reference Dr. Richard A. Denison’s flow charts that depict the basic processes applicable to existing chemicals already in commerce, and applicable to new chemicals prior to market entry.  Comparisons are shown between the processes under the old and new TSCA.  Dr. Denison is a Lead Senior Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).  There are three flowcharts available:

  • How the Lautenberg Act Works (Existing Chemicals);
  • How the Original TSCA Worked (Existing Chemicals); and
  • TSCA vs. Lautenberg Act (New Chemicals).

You can access the flow charts in Dr. Denison’s blog post on EDF’s Health webpage:  Understanding basic process flows under the new TSCA.


 

For a deeper dive into how and when Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) programs will change and adapt to “New TSCA,” Chemical Watch and Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) are offering a series of complimentary webinars on “‘The New TSCA’ -- What You Need to Know,” featuring an impressive faculty of TSCA experts representing the perspectives of industry, environmental organizations, and U.S. Federal and State regulatory authorities.  The second one in the series, Impacts on New and Existing Chemicals Programs (Sections 4, 5 and 6), is scheduled for July 14, 2016.  The archived webcast for the first webinar, Major Changes: What to Expect and When to Expect It, is available online.  The third and fourth webinars in the series, on Information and Reporting (Sections 8 and 14), and other provisions -- PBTs, Preemption, Green/Sustainable Chemistry, will be scheduled soon.  The webinars are moderated by B&C Managing Partner Lynn L. Bergeson.


 

In a June 22, 2016, blog post on The Hill's Congress Blog, Lynn L. Bergeson laid out four reasons why the American public has reason to celebrate the signing into law of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, “a comprehensive and vastly improved domestic chemical management law”:

  • Reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) strikes the requisite balance between Congressional specificity and Agency discretion.
  • Reformed TSCA addresses the law’s most celebrated deficits.
  • Reformed TSCA gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to do its job:  manage chemical risks.
  • Reformed TSCA ensures greater transparency and public engagement in the chemical evaluation process.

Read the full blog post at The Hill: TSCA reform: renewing public confidence in chemical control.