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, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Kathleen M. Roberts

The cost of generating health and safety studies is considerable and data owners have every right to expect some protection from disclosure to preserve the value of their intellectual property.  This is no longer guaranteed as Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Kathleen M. Roberts wrote in a two-part article in Bloomberg Environment Insights. The authors propose that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) practice of disclosing entire health and safety studies voluntarily submitted under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6 is based upon a misinterpretation of TSCA Section 14(b)(2)(A)(i) and should be reconsidered in light of a recent judicial decision and the pressing need to acknowledge the global relevance of health and safety studies. 
 
Many of the studies that will be relevant to EPA’s risk evaluations under TSCA Section 6 have significant monetary and competitive value, and data owners have every right to expect some protection from the disclosure of the study reports to preserve their value. If EPA as a matter of practice routinely posts entire study reports publicly, the reports would be rendered valueless for data compensation purposes. Some organizations have considered approaches that include the selective claiming of certain information elements in the study report as confidential to protect the value of the research while providing relevant information on the general findings and health and safety effects observed in the study. It is unclear, however, if this practice provides other stakeholders with sufficient information or if this practice is entirely effective in preserving the monetary and competitive value of the study report. EPA’s insistence that those who send in study reports accept the fact that the entire submission will be posted publicly also ignores the reality that many of these reports are jointly owned. Multiple entities often have title to the study as joint owners and its disclosure is generally subject to data sharing agreements that expressly prohibit its publication unless required by law.
 
Despite these concerns with the interpretation of TSCA Section 14(b)(2)(A)(i), submitters need to up their game, as it were, in identifying confidential business information (CBI) and certifying that release of such information would pose “substantial commercial harm.” For more information on the greater burden being placed on submitters, and for possible options to protect CBI, read the full article “Protecting the Value of Health, Safety Studies—Emerging TSCA Issues” online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Substances Control Act Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (TSCA SACC) will peer review EPA’s draft risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane (1-BP) on September 10-12, 2019.  The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia.  As reported in our August 9, 2019, blog item, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for 1-BP on August 9, 2019.  EPA made the following initial determinations on risk:

  • Unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, and consumers under certain conditions of use.  EPA notes that these initial determinations are not its final determinations on whether 1-BP presents unreasonable risks under the conditions of use.  EPA states that it will use feedback received from the public and peer review processes to inform the final risk evaluations.
     
  • No unreasonable risk to the environment.  For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment from 1-BP.

EPA requests comments on the draft risk evaluation by August 30, 2019, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  Comments received after August 30, 2019, and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to the SACC for their consideration.  EPA will continue to accept comments on the draft risk evaluations until October 11, 2019.  EPA will consider all comments received on the draft risk evaluations by the October 11, 2019, deadline when developing the final risk evaluation.  More information is available in our August 12, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Draft Risk Evaluation for 1-BP Finds Unreasonable Risks to Workers, Occupational Non-Users, Consumers, and Bystanders under Certain Specific Uses.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an August 7, 2019, petition for rulemaking submitted by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  PEER asks that oil refineries be prohibited from using hydrofluoric acid in their manufacturing processes and that oil refineries be required to phase out the use of hydrofluoric acid within two years.  According to PEER, TSCA and the Clean Air Act (CAA) regulate hydrofluoric acid and provide the statutory authority for EPA to issue a regulation prohibiting the use of hydrofluoric acid in oil refineries.  PEER states that under TSCA, EPA “possesses the power to promulgate rules banning chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk to human health.”  If the EPA Administrator determines that the “manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of a chemical substance . . . presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment,” TSCA Section 6(a) provides EPA the authority to prohibit or otherwise restrict “the manufacture, processing, or distribution in commerce of such substance or mixture for (i) a particular use.”  PEER argues that the EPA Administrator could ban the use of hydrofluoric acid in refineries if the Administrator found that its use in that context presented an unreasonable risk to health or the environment.  PEER maintains that the use of hydrofluoric acid presents such a risk.

EPA sent a letter to PEER on August 16, 2019, confirming receipt of its petition and noting that Section 21 provides the Administrator 90 days to grant or deny the petition.  If the EPA Administrator grants the petition, the Administrator will “promptly commence an appropriate preceding [sic].”  If the Administrator denies the petition, the Administrator will publish the reasons for the denial in the Federal Register.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on August 9, 2019, the draft risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane (1-BP), the fourth of the first ten chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA made the following initial determinations on risk:

  • Unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, and consumers under certain conditions of use.  EPA notes that these initial determinations are not its final determinations on whether 1-BP presents unreasonable risks under the conditions of use.  EPA states that it will use feedback received from the public and peer review processes to inform the final risk evaluations.
  • No unreasonable risk to the environment.  For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment from 1-BP.

EPA states that these initial determinations may change as its evaluation becomes more refined through the public and peer review process.  The draft risk evaluation, including initial risk determinations as to whether the chemical under the conditions of use presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment, is not final.  If unreasonable risk is found for one or more conditions of use in a final risk evaluation, EPA will propose actions to address those risks within the timeframe required by TSCA.

The TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will peer review the draft risk evaluation at a September 10-12, 2019, meeting.  EPA will hold a preparatory virtual meeting on August 21, 2019, to discuss the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions to SACC.  EPA requests comments on the draft risk evaluation by August 30, 2019, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  Comments received after August 30, 2019, and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to the SACC for their consideration.  EPA will continue to accept comments on the draft risk evaluations until October 11, 2019.  EPA will consider all comments received on the draft risk evaluations by the October 11, 2019, deadline when developing the final risk evaluation.  More information is available in our August 12, 2019, memorandum, "EPA Draft Risk Evaluation for 1-BP Finds Unreasonable Risks to Workers, Occupational Non-Users, Consumers, and Bystanders under Certain Specific Uses."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published statistics concerning its review of confidential business information (CBI) cases received between June 22 2016, and June 25, 2019.  The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, enacted in 2016, amended the CBI provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Since then, EPA “has established numerous new processes, systems, and procedures to enable submitters to provide the information required when making confidentiality claims and to facilitate EPA's review, and where applicable, determinations on these claims.”  According to EPA, the statistics show EPA's progress toward meeting the requirements of TSCA Section 14(g).  EPA uses “case” to describe a submission made under a specific section of TSCA and all subsequent submissions and amendments by the same submitter that relate back to the first submission. 

CBI Review Statistics (cases received between June 22, 2016 and June 25, 2019)
Cases in which the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 2,177
Cases in which information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 2,305
Cases in which both the specific chemical identity and information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 587
Total cases subject to CBI review 5,069

 

Cases resulting in final CBI determinations
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, approved 523
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denied 5
Cases with CBI claims subject to review, approved-in-part/denied-in-part 34
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denial - appeal period pending* 10
Total cases resulting in final CBI determinations 572

 * “Denial - appeal period pending” cases are those for which a CBI determination denying one or more CBI claims in a case has been issued to the submitter of the information, but for which the required 30-day notification period following receipt of the determination under TSCA Section 14(g)(2)(B) has not yet passed.

Cases reviewed with no final CBI determination necessary
Cases with all CBI claims screened and found to be exempt from review 1,068
Cases with all CBI claims withdrawn by submitter 415
Cases identified for CBI review, for which no determination required (e.g., in some instances, older EPA information systems do not specifically identify which information is claimed as CBI and upon review, it is determined that no claims require review) 1,012
Total cases reviewed/screened with no final CBI determination necessary 2,495

 

Cases currently undergoing CBI review
Cases currently undergoing CBI review 2,002

EPA states that later this year, it plans to publish a comprehensive list of cases subject to CBI review to be updated quarterly.  The table will include information showing the results of individual cases with completed reviews.

Tags: CBI, Section14

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On June 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft risk evaluations for cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD) and 1,4-dioxane, two of the first ten chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  In its June 28, 2019, press release, EPA states in the draft risk evaluation for HBCD, it did not find unreasonable risk to the general population, consumers, workers, or the environment.  According to EPA, in the draft risk evaluation for 1,4-dioxane, EPA did not find unreasonable risk to the environment, but the data “show there could be unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances.”  EPA states:  “It is important to note that for the general population, including children, environmental statutes administered by EPA such as the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, adequately assess and effectively manage risks from 1,4-dioxane.”

On Monday, July 1, 2019, EPA will publish a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluations and beginning a 60-day comment period.  The draft risk evaluations will be peer reviewed by the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on July 29- August 2, 2019.  SACC will hold a preparatory virtual meeting to discuss the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions on July 10, 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, and Margaret R. Graham

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Nancy B. Beck, Ph.D., signed a Federal Register document denying a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21 petition requesting that EPA amend the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule to increase asbestos reporting, exclude asbestos from certain exemptions, and lift Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule.  Due to the government shutdown, the notice has not yet been published in the Federal Register, but EPA has posted a prepublication version.  EPA’s carefully reasoned response to the request is set forth in the notice.  

The petition was filed on September 27, 2018, by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, American Public Health Association, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (Petitioners).  According to EPA, Petitioners requested the following specific amendments to the existing CDR rule to collect information for the ongoing asbestos risk evaluation being conducted under TSCA Section 6(b) (required to be completed by December 22, 2019), and, if necessary, any subsequent risk management decisions under TSCA Section 6(a):

  1. Amend the CDR rule to require immediate submission, “from January 1, 2019, to April [30], 2019,” of reports on asbestos for the 2016 reporting cycle. 
  2. Amend the naturally occurring chemical substance exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.6(a)(3) to make the exemption inapplicable to asbestos;
  3. Amend the articles exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.10(b) to require reporting pursuant to the CDR rule for all imported articles in which asbestos is present at detectable levels;
  4. Amend the CDR rule to exclude asbestos from the exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.10(c) to require the reporting of asbestos as a byproduct or impurity;
  5. Amend the reporting threshold for CDR at 40 C.F.R. § 711.8(b) to set a reporting threshold of ten pounds for asbestos; and
  6. Amend 40 C.F.R. § 711.8 to add processors of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles as persons required to report under the CDR rule.

In addition to the above requests, Petitioners also requested that EPA use its authority under TSCA Sections 14(d)(3) and 14(d)(7) to lift CBI claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule.  EPA responds in detail as to why it is denying each of these requests.  A short summary is below.

  1. 2016 Reporting Cycle:  EPA states that based on the extensive research and data gathering already conducted during the asbestos risk evaluation process, EPA believes that “the requested amendments to the CDR rule would not lead to the reporting of new information that would contribute to EPA’s ongoing asbestos risk evaluation or, if needed, subsequent risk management decision(s)” and Petitioners have “failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to require immediate past reporting of the manufacturing and use of asbestos under the CDR rule for the 2016 reporting cycle.”
  2. Naturally Occurring Substances Exemption:  EPA states that removing the exemption for reporting on naturally occurring substances for asbestos would not provide any additional data to EPA “given that the purpose of domestic manufacturing or importing of raw asbestos is to make asbestos diaphragms, for which EPA already has use and exposure information” and Petitioners have “failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the naturally occurring chemical substances exemption for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
  3. Articles Exemption: EPA states that it believes that lifting the articles exemption for the reporting of asbestos under the CDR rule “would not provide any new use information that would inform the ongoing risk evaluation or any subsequent risk management decisions, if needed” and that Petitioners “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the articles exemption for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
  4. Reporting as a Byproduct or Impurity:  EPA states that it does not believe that making the requested amendment to the CDR rule would result in “reporting of asbestos as an impurity or a byproduct, for uses that are known or reasonably ascertainable,” that Petitioners “have not provided evidence that there are such known uses that are ongoing but remain outside the scope of the asbestos risk evaluation,” and “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the byproducts and impurities exemptions for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
  5. Reporting Threshold of Ten Pounds:  EPA states that Petitioners “fail to show that lowering the reporting threshold would provide any new information to EPA” and, therefore, finds that the Petitioners “have failed to set sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lower the CDR reporting threshold for asbestos.”
  6. Adding Processors to CDR:  EPA states that it does not believe that “requiring processors of asbestos under the CDR rule will provide useful information not already in its possession,” Petitioners “have failed to indicate what additional information EPA would collect by requiring asbestos processors to report under the CDR rule” and, therefore, EPA finds that the Petitioners “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to require processors of asbestos to report under the CDR rule.”
  7. Lifting CBI Claims:  EPA states that Petitioners’ request to lift CBI claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule is "not appropriate for a TSCA Section 21 petition, as a TSCA Section 21 only pertains to the “issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule under TSCA sections 4, 6, or 8, or an order under TSCA sections 4 or 5(e) or (f),” therefore, a TSCA Section 21 petition “is not a vehicle to petition EPA to initiate an action under TSCA section 14.”  Further, EPA states that it believes that “disclosure of CBI would have no practical relevance to the risk evaluation or risk determination as the CBI claims are limited and EPA retains the ability to characterize the information without revealing the actual protected data.”

Please look for the full analysis in our upcoming memorandum that will be posted on our Regulatory Developments page. 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was extending the comment periods for all ten problem formulation documents and the systematic review approach document in Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluations that were published on June 11, 2018, by 21 days;  comments on these documents are now due by August 16, 2018.  EPA states that although the comment period will end in 21 days (August 16, 2018), “EPA will try to consider any additional comments received after this date.  However, incorporation of late comments may not be included in the documents for peer review.  There will be an additional comment period following the publication of each of the draft risk evaluations.”

Links to the problem formulation dockets are available in our blog item “EPA Releases Problem Formulations Documents on First Ten Chemicals; Systematic Review Approach Document; and Asbestos SNUR” and a more detailed analysis is available in our memorandum “EPA Takes ‘Three Important Steps’ Intended to Ensure Chemical Safety.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On June 6, 2018, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) released its final policy and form for manufacturer disclosures under the Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program.  The Disclosure Program is similar to the recently enacted California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 which requires the disclosure of cleaning product ingredients by way of website or product label.  The Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program requires manufacturers of cleaning products sold in New York to disclose chemical ingredients and identify any ingredients that appear on authoritative lists of chemicals of concern on their websites.  New York states that it “will be the first state in the nation to require such disclosure and the State’s program goes beyond initiatives in other states by requiring the robust disclosure of byproducts and contaminants, as well as chemicals with the potential to trigger asthma in adults and children.”  NYSDEC has posted the Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program Certification Form and Program Policy and a response to comments.

Our recent memorandum provides an in-depth review of important information from the Disclosure Program Certification Form and Program Policy, including covered products and definitions, information to be disclosed, the lists of chemicals of concern covered by the Program, and the effective dates.  With the first disclosures due July 1, 2019, manufacturers need to review the Program Policy and begin compiling information concerning the ingredients of their products.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On June 1, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the much anticipated first ten problem formulation documents; its systematic review approach document; and a significant new use rule (SNUR) proposal enabling it to prevent new uses of asbestos for public comment.  Links and short summaries are provided below.

EPA states that the problem formulation documents refine the conditions of use, exposures, and hazards presented in the scope of the risk evaluations for the first ten chemicals to be evaluated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and present refined conceptual models and analysis plans that describe how EPA expects to evaluate the risks and that they are an important interim step prior to completing and publishing the final risk evaluations by December 2019.  Comments on the problem formulation documents will be due 45 days after these documents are published in the Federal Register.  The problem formulation documents are:

  1. Asbestos
  2. 1-Bromopropane (1-BP);
  3. Carbon Tetrachloride;
  4. 1,4-Dioxane;
  5. Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD Cluster);
  6. Methylene Chloride;
  7. N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP);
  8. Perchloroethylene;
  9. Pigment Violet 29; and
  10. Trichloroethylene (TCE).

EPA states the systematic review approach document will guide its selection and review of studies in addition to providing the public with continued transparency regarding how the Agency plans to evaluate scientific information.  Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.  Also included on the systematic review web page is EPA’s Response to Public Comments Related to the Supplemental Files Supporting the TSCA Scope Documents for the First Ten Risk Evaluations.  

For asbestos, EPA is proposing an asbestos SNUR for certain uses of asbestos (including asbestos-containing goods) that would require manufacturers and importers to receive EPA approval before starting or resuming manufacturing, and importing or processing of asbestos.  EPA states that this review process, the first such action on asbestos ever proposed, would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of asbestos and, when necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the use.  Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information on the first ten chemical evaluations is available on our blog.  A more detailed analysis will be available next week on our regulatory developments webpage.


 
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