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 Margaret R. Graham

On November 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the agenda and meeting materials for its December 6, 2017, New Chemicals Review Program Implementation meeting.  NOTE WELL: This is a critically important meeting for companies that innovate in the chemical space and are now preparing Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) Premanufacture Notifications (PMN) or will in the future.  EPA states that this meeting will update and engage with the public on EPA’s progress in implementing changes to the New Chemicals Review Program as a result of the 2016 amendments to TSCA, and will include a discussion of EPA’s draft New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework.  The meeting materials include:

  • Agenda for Public Meeting.  The Agenda includes the following topics: the decision-making framework; TSCA orders and Significant New Use Rules (SNUR) in the context of new chemicals review; the Points to Consider document as well as the pilot results and other questions; the decision guidelines manual; chemical categories; sustainable futures; a discussion of questions submitted in advance; and two public comment periods.  Featured speakers are Nancy Beck, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OSCPP) and Jeff Morris, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT).
  • New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.  EPA states that this document includes EPA’s general decision framework for new chemicals and a breakdown of how EPA intends to approach each of the five types of new-chemical determinations required.
  • Points to Consider When Preparing TSCA New Chemical Notifications (Draft).  This draft document, dated November 6, 2017, provides concise information to assist submitters in preparing a PMN, Significant New Use Notice (SNUN), or exemption notice (e.g., Low Volume Exemption or LVE) that (1) meets the requirements of TSCA Section 5 and applicable regulations; and (2) facilitates EPA’s review of Section 5 notices by ensuring that the information received accurately and completely reflects the intended manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, and disposal of the new chemical substances subject to the Section 5 notice.  EPA states this is a draft published for comment, but does not specify a deadline for submitting comments.
  • Overview of Comments Received on the Draft "Points to Consider" Document.  This document summarizes 151 comments received on the draft Points to Consider document.  It organizes them by topic.  The topics addressed are aquatic haz/tox; chemistry; data; engineering; environmental release and disposal information; fate; a general category; human health haz/tox; regulatory; release to water; standard review; uses; risk; exposure; and prenotice meetings.  These comments have not been posted in the docket for this meeting.
  • New Chemicals Decision Guidelines Manual – Detailed Outline.  EPA states that this manual will summarize how EPA reviews new chemical submissions and the policies and decision guidelines used in making decisions under TSCA Section 5.  It will provide an overview of both risk assessment and risk management approaches. Further, it is intended to help stakeholders determine what forms of regulation and restrictions on the manufacture, distribution, use, and/or disposal of a new chemical substance may arise from an EPA determination.

The December 6, 2017, meeting will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C., and will be available by remote access for registered participants.  Online requests to participate must be received on or before December 5, 2017.  EPA states it plans to utilize the feedback it receives from the public meeting and comments received to improve policy and processes relating to the review of new chemicals under TSCA.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0585 on www.regulations.gov with a copy to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)Registration for this meeting is available online.  In addition to hearing oral comments at the meeting, EPA is also accepting written comments and materials submitted to the docket for this meeting until January 20, 2018.

More information on the subsequent Approaches for Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for Existing Chemical Risk Evaluations meeting on December 11, 2017, is available in our blog item EPA Schedules Two Meetings to Discuss TSCA Implementation Activities, Requests Comments.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 6, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to publish a notice in the Federal Register in which it will announce two meetings to discuss implementation activities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 20th Century Act, as well as request public comments.  The meetings are:

  • New Chemicals Review Program Implementation Meeting:  December 6, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST).  EPA’s first meeting will update and engage with the public on EPA’s progress in implementing changes to the New Chemicals Review Program as a result of the 2016 amendments to TSCA, and will include a discussion of EPA’s draft New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework.  EPA will describe its review process for new chemical substances under the amended statute and interested parties will have the opportunity to provide input and to ask questions.  EPA states it plans to utilize the feedback it receives from the public meeting and comments received to improve policy and processes relating to the review of new chemicals under TSCA.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0585 on www.regulations.govRegistration for this meeting is available online.
  • Approaches for Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for Existing Chemical Risk Evaluations Meeting:  December 11, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST).  EPA’s second meeting will focus on possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemical substances for EPA’s prioritization process under TSCA.  As amended, TSCA required that EPA establish processes for prioritizing and evaluating risks from existing chemical substances.  EPA will describe and take comment on a number of possible approaches that could guide it in the identification of potential candidate chemical substances.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0586 on www.regulations.govRegistration for this meeting is available online.

Online requests to participate in either meeting must be received on or before December 5, 2017.  Both meetings will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C., and will be available by remote access for registered participants. EPA states that more information on the specifics of the meetings will be made available in the dockets and on EPA’s website prior to the meeting.


 

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.”


 

On April 14, 2017, Lynn L. Bergeson’s article “TSCA Reform: Key Provisions and Implications,” was published in Volume 26, Issue 2, of Environmental Quality Management.  On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which substantially amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and, in so doing, fundamentally altered the domestic management of industrial chemicals -- the lifeblood of many manufacturing processes.  This article summarizes key changes to TSCA and explains their likely impacts on the manufacturing sector.


 

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 Molly R. Blessing


As noted in our blog posting on November 16, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 1, 2016, that its Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) will hold a public meeting on December 14, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST) to update the public on changes to the New Chemicals Review Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (TSCA).  Note the time change from EPA’s previous announcement of this public meeting; the meeting time has been extended to end at 3:00 p.m. instead of the original 12:00 p.m.  Reportedly, the response to EPA’s earlier notice was quite robust so EPA has extended the public meeting by three hours.

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.”  Interested parties will have the opportunity to comment “on their experiences with the New Chemicals Review Program, including submittal of pre-manufacture notices (PMNs), microbial commercial activity notices (MCANs), and significant new use notices (SNUNs) under section 5 of the law.”  Information obtained during this meeting and from submitted written comments will be considered as EPA works to “implement the new requirements and improve the efficiency of its review process under TSCA.”

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 and must be submitted by January 14, 2017.

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, as well as on the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. website under Regulatory Developments: TSCA.

Commentary

As noted in our earlier blog, given the considerable impact of new TSCA on EPA’s New Chemicals Program, this public meeting is a must attend for TSCA stakeholders.  Interested parties should come to the meeting with thoughtful questions and clear expectations as to what stakeholders can usefully share with EPA at 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.

One point in particular that we draw attention to is a sentence at the top of page 86714 in the Federal Register notice describing the affirmative determinations that initially are tied to unreasonable risk determinations, then goes on to claim that there is an alternative concerning “insufficient information to allow for a determination.”

Pursuant to the amended law, EPA is now required to make an affirmative determination as to whether or not the new use or new chemical presents, may present, or is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, or, alternatively, if there is insufficient information to allow for a determination.

This reading of the law is plainly at odds with the text that clearly states (Section 5(a)(1)(B))  that EPA has to “make a determination under subparagraphs (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (3).”  The insufficient information provision appears at Section 5(a)(3)(B)(i). and, thus, “insufficient information” is both included within (B) and is a determination.  We also note that in discussing the affirmative determinations, EPA has omitted discussion of the substantial production/exposure determination at Section 5(a)(3)(ii)(II).  

While this may only represent an error in drafting the notice, it is also possible that it indicates a basic misunderstanding of the new chemicals provisions, a view that may find support in some of the decisions recently communicated to our clients in “action letters” on Section 5 notices.


 

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 Zameer Qureshi

Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner at Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), presented at Chemical Watch Enforcement Summit Europe in Brussels on November 4, 2016.  Topics covered by Ms. Bergeson included “A New [Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)] and Expanded Enforcement and Product Liability Opportunities,” “Next Generation Compliance and Implications for Businesses,” and “eDisclosure -- The New Normal?”

Ms. Bergeson informed attendees of the significant amendments made to chemical regulation in the U.S. by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (new TSCA).  She indicated that new TSCA amends TSCA in a number of ways and provided delegates with useful detail on the significant amendments made by new TSCA, stating that new TSCA: 

  1. Resets the Chemical Inventory based on industry-supplied data;
  2. Requires screening assessments for all “active substances”;
  3. Mandates risk evaluation for all “high-priority” substances and risk management for some substances;
  4. Compels substantiation of confidential business information (CBI) claims; and
  5. Authorizes testing order authority (i.e., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can compel chemical testing in addition to the more traditional test rule and consent order testing procedures).

Ms. Bergeson utilized a slide entitled “New Compliance Mandates = New Enforcement Opportunities” to address EPA’s expanded authority under new TSCA (e.g., Section 4 test orders, Section 5 new chemical safety “determinations,” and Section 6 prioritization).  She expressed that EPA’s expanded authority under new TSCA gives rise to significant opportunities for enforcement of allegations of non-compliance when Section 4 test orders are issued. 

Regarding testing, Ms. Bergeson stated “the [U.S.] testing program has relevance for people anywhere in the world” as chemical manufacturers can be expected to be ordered to test, and manufacturers include importers.  Ms. Bergeson expressed that more testing will trigger an enhanced need to consider reporting under new TSCA Section 8(e).  She described the possible outcomes of new chemical safety “determinations” by EPA under Section 5 and indicated that as a consequence of new TSCA “we’re going to see lots and lots of new [Significant New Use Rules (SNUR)].”  Additionally, Ms. Bergeson stated “[Chemical Data Reporting (CDR)] requirements and Section 8 requirements are much more robust now.” 

Drawing on her experience and current information from EPA, Ms. Bergeson analyzed “Next Generation Compliance” and provided insights to attendees on what it means for industry.  She relied on a diagram from EPA that indicates Next Generation Compliance encompasses an intersection of “Regulation and Permit Design,” “Advanced Monitoring,” “Electronic Reporting,” “Transparency,” and “Innovative Enforcement.”  Ms. Bergeson stated “Next Gen Compliance is an Obama Administration initiative” and emphasized the relevance of the U.S. presidential election for the future of Next Generation Compliance by stating “Next Generation Compliance will likely grow under the Clinton Administration or may die on the vine under a Trump Administration.”  She then discussed each of the individual components of Next Generation Compliance. 

Regarding Regulation and Permit Design, Ms. Bergeson stated that EPA’s goals were to “make permits clearer,” promote self-monitoring and third-party reporting, make compliance easier than non-compliance, and leverage market forces and incentives. 

Ms. Bergeson stated that the expansion of “Advanced Monitoring Technologies” means there are new tools that can assist industry.  She described the usefulness of real-time monitoring (i.e., knowing about releases into the environment on a real-time basis), facility feedback loops, fenceline and community monitoring, and remote sensing.  Ms. Bergeson noted, as a potential drawback of Advanced Monitoring, that “technologies that have not necessarily been vetted” are finding their way into enforcement consent agreements.  She then indicated that while this may be fine, the reliability of such technologies for regulatory purposes is untested and reliance on such technologies in regulatory contexts should not replace more traditional notice and comment rulemaking.

Ms. Bergeson stated “Electronic Reporting is a huge part of Next Generation Compliance; the era of submitting paper [is over],” and informed delegates that “information technologies enable new solutions, but invite concerns regarding accuracy and regulatory reliability.”  She stated “Electronic Reporting does not always go as intended and greatly facilitates finding non-compliance.”  Ms. Bergeson referenced the relevant EPA memorandum and informed attendees that Electronic Reporting is the default mechanism for providing information under new TSCA, and stated that Ohio Discharge Monitoring Report Electronic Reporting “checks submissions overnight and sends notices” if there are problems, thereby allowing the permittee to make corrections and resubmit.

Regarding Innovative Enforcement, Ms. Bergeson expressed that EPA is using Next Generation tools in enforcement settlements, and that Innovative Enforcement enhances targeting and data analysis to identify and address the most serious violations.  She stated “we really like new technologies, but if a technology is new it may not be standardized, making reliance on it necessarily more focused to enforcement and not rulemaking purposes.”  Additionally, Ms. Bergeson informed delegates that there is “a little concern in the regulated community in the U.S.” that some of the new technologies evolving from Innovative Enforcement efforts could undermine the notice and comment rulemaking process if these technologies are used for purposes beyond consent orders.

Ms. Bergeson stated that EPA’s “eDisclosure” portal provides companies with a new way to self-report violations of environmental law and is intended to “streamline confessions” by the “legal and corporate community,” and described the two-tier system within EPA’s eDisclosure portal and stated that for some violations “you can get on with your life.” 

Ms. Bergeson stated “we always urge [B&C] clients to fix the problem immediately … The issue arises in some contexts of ‘do we tell EPA?’”  She then informed delegates of the underpinning principles of eDisclosure by stating “it is believed that self-confessing should be rewarded.”  Ms. Bergeson advised that companies can seek to reduce penalties by self-confessing, but the decision to self-confess is always fact dependent, and then indicated that the future of eDisclosure could be significantly impacted by the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

Ms. Bergeson addressed “Design and Use of Safer Chemicals” and told attendees that EPA has “tried very hard” to promote Safer Chemicals through Green Chemistry, Safer Choice Labels, and the Safer Chemical Ingredient List, and that “creative technologies that are better, cheaper, and less toxic” are actively encouraged by EPA and welcomed by the U.S. chemical regulatory community.

Ms. Bergeson expressed that the implications of new TSCA are significant for the chemical manufacturing, importing, and downstream user sectors and provided beneficial “Closing Thoughts” to attendees.  She stated that chemical manufacturers, importers, and downstream users need to:  

  1. Read and understand the law and engage in “trade associations’ implementation activities”;
  2. Assess chemical product inventories;
  3. Manage the “business and optics” of chemical assessment, management, and substitution;
  4. Assess CBI options; and
  5. Manage chemical data information carefully.

Ms. Bergeson stated that the “implications of new TSCA are paradigm shifting … In the next two to five years we’re going to see opportunities for non-compliance.”  Regarding CBI, Ms. Bergeson stated “we need to be very cognizant … Some of the changes are very subtle and it is an area ripe for enforcement … Assertion of CBI is at a higher standard -- EPA will be very vigilant.”  Ms. Bergeson emphasized EPA’s “much richer implementation authority” under new TSCA and informed delegates that Next Generation enforcement and eDisclosure tools “add to the pressure” on the U.S. chemical industry to monitor carefully chemical portfolios.

Ms. Bergeson answered a number of questions on new TSCA and EPA’s likely enforcement of it.  In response to a delegate’s question relating to the capacity of EPA to manage enforcement of new TSCA, she stated that EPA requires greater resources and is currently recruiting.  Ms. Bergeson answered questions from attendees on timelines for pending rules from EPA and highlighted EPA’s interest in expediting its rulemaking on fees.  She indicated that fees will be higher under new TSCA.  Ms. Bergeson responded to a question regarding the scope of new TSCA by clarifying that new TSCA relates to industrial chemicals and that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) will continue to maintain their previous regulatory scope.  Ms. Bergeson indicated that the only exception is found under TSCA Section 8(b)(10), which requires any or all mercury or mercury compounds, or any intentional use of mercury in a manufacturing process to be reported to EPA under the mercury inventory and reporting provisions, regardless of whether the use  of the mercury or mercury compound is regulated under FIFRA or FFDCA.


 

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) Managing Partner Lynn L. Bergeson and Senior Policy and Regulatory Advisor Charles M. Auer have recently published two articles on important issues as related to the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): 

The concept of “conditions of use” plays an important role in TSCA as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.  Conditions of use is a centralizing concept under which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines how a chemical is made, processed, used, and disposed.  The term is defined in TSCA Section 3 and also appears one or more times in the following Sections:  5, 6, 9, 14, 18, 21, and 26.  The term is not used in Sections 4 and 8.  B&C’s BNA article explores the use and application of conditions of use under Sections 5 and 6 and provides insights into the implications of what may be its unusual use in Section 5 in comparison to Section 6.

Among its other requirements and authorities, Section 5 of new TSCA generally requires that a company timely submit to EPA a notice of its intent to manufacture or process a new chemical or significant new use (NC/SNU).  EPA is then required to conduct a review of the Section 5(a)(1) notice and make a determination on the NC/SNU and take required additional actions.  Questions have been raised as to whether the review period is fixed and requires that EPA determinations and actions be completed within that period, or if the statute can be read to permit a more flexible review period along the lines of how it was interpreted and applied in old TSCA with the use of voluntary suspensions.  Charles M. Auer and Lynn L. Bergeson’s September ABA article analyzes that question.

Other B&C articles on amended TSCA and other regulatory issues of interest are available on our website.


 

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.


 
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