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.

On March 31, 2021, the Product Stewardship Society (PSS) presented “Product Stewardship and the Pandemic: Surviving and Thriving in Disruptive Times.” Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), and PSS President, moderated a lively and informative discussion identifying the broad range of complex, unresolved, and evolving issues product stewards have faced and continue to face because of the pandemic.
 
Presenters included:

  • Al Iannuzzi, Ph.D., Vice President, Sustainability, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.;
  • Louise Proud, Vice President, Global Environment, Health & Safety, Pfizer;
  • Tina Armstrong, Ph.D., Principal Scientist and Vice President, Arcadis; and
  • Jon Hellerstein, CIH, CSP, of Global Product Stewardship Solutions.

A recording of the webinar is now available for PSS members and non-members alike to watch on demand via PSS's e-learning portal. The portal also contains a wealth of resources and tools to equip product stewards and enhance the many roles they play in creating successful, sustainable products and solutions.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 8, 2021, that “in accordance with Biden-Harris Administration executive orders and directives,” it is asking for additional public input on five final rules for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals issued on January 6, 2021, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA states that as a first step in its efforts to review these rules immediately, EPA is opening a 60-day comment period for the public to provide new input on:

  • Whether the rules sufficiently reduce exposure to these chemicals, including exposures to potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations and the environment;
  • Newly raised compliance issues associated with the final rule on phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)), including the compliance dates for certain regulated articles; and
  • Whether to consider additional or alternative measures or approaches.

EPA states that it will use the feedback received during the comment period to determine the best path forward, which could include amending the final rules to include additional or alternative exposure reduction measures or extending compliance dates for certain regulated products and articles.  Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will accept public comments for 60 days.
 
Stakeholders recently informed EPA that the prohibition on processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) could impact articles used in a wide variety of electronics, from cell phones, to robotics used to manufacture semiconductors, to equipment used to move COVID-19 vaccines and keep them at the appropriate temperature.  EPA states that stakeholders “note that the complexity of international supply chains makes locating the presence of, and finding alternatives to, PIP (3:1) in components challenging.”  According to EPA, stakeholders assert that an extension to the compliance deadline is necessary to avoid significant disruption to the supply chain for a wide variety of articles.  EPA states that it was not its intent during the development of the final rule to have such a broad disruptive impact.  Thus, EPA “is also announcing its expectation that this specific issue will be addressed as part of the broader re-examination of these rules.”  EPA “intends to extend compliance dates as necessary for the prohibitions on processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) for use in some articles, and some of the articles to which PIP (3:1) has been added.”
 
EPA states that for these same reasons, it is issuing a temporary 180-day “No Action Assurance” indicating that the agency will exercise its enforcement discretion regarding the prohibitions on processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) for use in articles, and the articles to which PIP (3:1) has been added.  EPA “is taking this action to ensure that the supply chain of these important articles is not interrupted while EPA continues to collect the information needed to best inform subsequent regulatory efforts and allow for the issuance of a final agency action to extend the March 8, 2021, compliance date as necessary.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On February 23, 2021, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) announced that in association with other relevant Directorates-General (DG) of the European Commission (EC), DG Environment has opened a call for applications to select members for an expert group, the High-Level Roundtable on Implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.  According to EU-OSHA, the expert group’s mission “is to set the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability objectives and monitor its implementation in dialogue with the stakeholders concerned.”  Specific tasks include contributing to identifying and addressing social, economic, and cultural barriers to the transition toward safe and sustainable chemicals.  The expert group will act as a core group of ambassadors to facilitate discussions and promote this transition in the economy and society, developing a regular exchange of views, experiences, and good practices between the EC and stakeholders on the main objectives of the Strategy, namely:

  • Innovating for safe and sustainable chemicals, including for materials and products;
  • Addressing pressing environmental and health concerns;
  • Simplifying and consolidating the legal framework;
  • Providing a comprehensive knowledge base on chemicals; and
  • Setting the example for global sound management of chemicals.

The expert group will consist of up to 32 members, with a maximum of:

  • The Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union;
  • Ten third-sector organizations in the following areas:  health protection, environmental protection, human rights, animal protection, consumer rights, and workers’ rights;
  • Eight scientific organizations, academia, and research institutes providing a suitable balance between expertise in fundamental research, applied research, and training/education;
  • Ten industries, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) or associations of enterprises, including an adequate representation of frontrunners in the production and use of safe and sustainable chemicals.  Those should include chemical industries, downstream users (from different sectors), and retailers; and
  • Three international organizations -- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Interested organizations are invited to submit their applications before March 18, 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 3, 2021, the latest update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory, “a list of all existing chemical substances manufactured, processed, or imported” in the United States.  EPA states that this biannual update to the public TSCA Inventory is part of its regular posting of non-confidential TSCA Inventory data.  EPA plans to release the next regular update of the Inventory in summer 2021.  According to EPA, the Inventory contains 86,557 chemicals of which 41,864 are active in U.S commerce.  EPA notes that other updates to the TSCA Inventory include new chemical substance additions, commercial activity data, and regulatory flags, such as polymer exemptions, TSCA Section 4 test orders, and TSCA Section 5 significant new use rules (SNUR).


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 22, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the reasons for its denial of a petition requesting it to require health and environmental effects testing on 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  86 Fed. Reg. 6602.  The petition sought issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling The Chemours Company (Chemours) to fund and carry out this testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists.  EPA states that it finds the petitioners have not provided the facts necessary for it to determine for each of the 54 PFAS that “existing information and experience are insufficient and testing of such substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.”  After “careful consideration,” EPA denied the TSCA petition for the following reasons:

  • Insufficient Information and Experience:  According to EPA, the petition does not set forth the facts necessary to demonstrate that there is “insufficient information and experience” for each of the 54 PFAS.  The petitioners state, in part, “[f]or the 54 PFAS, the sufficiency of available information should be determined by comparing available data with the known adverse effects of other PFAS.  The goal should be to conduct a scientifically sound assessment of each of the 54 chemicals for the critical toxic endpoints that have been identified in studies on [perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)], [perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)] and other well-characterized studies.”  EPA states that the petitioners do not provide evidence that they conducted an assessment to support a finding of insufficient information and experience, however;
     
  • Testing of Such Substance or Mixture with Respect to Such Effects Is Necessary to Develop Such Information:  According to EPA, the petitioners do not demonstrate “testing of such substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.”  EPA finds that the petitioners failed to address ongoing testing and data collections for some of the 54 PFAS, thereby failing to set forth facts that are necessary to establish there is a need for the testing sought in the petition.  According to EPA, this research may provide information that overlaps with testing the petitioners requested, which would render the information unnecessary under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A)(i)(III);
     
  • Class-Based Approach to Testing:  TSCA Section 4(h)(1)(B)(ii) “encourage[s]” EPA to consider “the grouping of 2 or more chemical substances into scientifically appropriate categories in cases in which testing of a chemical substance would provide scientifically valid and useful information on other chemical substances in the category.”  EPA states that it “is currently investigating ways to group similar PFAS by likeness into subcategories for purposes of research, data collection, hazard determinations, and other activities.”  EPA notes that it collaborated with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) “to construct a PFAS screening library subset composed of 75 PFAS on a structural category basis and considerations such as structural diversity within a category, data availability, and read-across category-level weight (e.g., value of substance for anchoring read-across trends within a category, serving as an analog); four of the 54 PFAS the petitioners identify are included in this subset.”  While the petitioners mention this effort, they “incorrectly state that just two of the 54 PFAS the petitioners cover are included in the EPA testing.”
     
  • Practicability of National Academy of Sciences Oversight:  The petitioners also request that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) oversee all aspects of the proposed testing program.  EPA states that it “finds such an oversight arrangement is not within the scope of what a TSCA section 21 petitioner can request when seeking the initiation of a rule or the issuance of an order under TSCA section 4.”  Furthermore, according to EPA, projects and studies must meet certain conditions for the NAS to accept private funding.  EPA concludes that it is not in a position to require NAS to oversee the testing requested by the petitioners, and the petitioners provide no administrative or organizational procedures for implementation.
     
  • Selection of PFAS for Health and Environmental Effects Testing:  The petitioners divide the 54 PFAS at issue into Tier 1 substances “for which there is known human exposure based on detection in blood, food or drinking water,” and Tier 2 substances “for which human exposure is probable based on detection in environmental media.”  According to EPA, the petitioners do not set forth facts showing that for all 40 PFAS it ranks as Tier 2 substances “human exposure is probable based on detection in environmental media” or that “a strong inference of exposure can be drawn from their presence in surface water, stormwater, wastewater, sediment, groundwater, soil, private wells, and/or air emissions,” however.
     
  • Scientific Standards:  EPA states that it “finds the petitioners have not evaluated the quality of the data they have provided or indicated how they conducted their searches, evaluated the quality of the sources, or indicated what gaps were located and then explained why the specific tests requested, as compared to others, would provide the data being sought.”  According to EPA, such an evaluation is necessary for EPA to conduct the considerations under TSCA Section 26(h).
     
  • Vertebrate Testing:  TSCA Section 4(h) requires that EPA reduce and replace the use of vertebrate animals in the testing of chemical substances under TSCA Section 4.  EPA states that it must consider “as appropriate and to the extent practicable and scientifically justified, reasonably available existing information, including (i) Toxicity information; (ii) Computational toxicology and bioinformatics; and (iii) High-throughput screening methods and the prediction models of those methods.”

More information on the TSCA Section 21 petition is available in our October 29, 2020, memorandum, “TSCA Section 21 Petition Seeks Section 4 Test Rule for 54 PFAS.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on February 3, 2021, “to educate stakeholders on the risk management process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the findings in the final risk evaluation for Asbestos Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos.”  EPA states that the webinar will also give the public an opportunity to provide input on considerations the agency should take into account for managing these unreasonable risks.  Stakeholders who wish to provide oral comments must register by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 29, 2021, and those who will only listen may register up to the end of the meeting.  EPA will provide a transcript and recording on EPA’s Asbestos Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos web page following the webinar.  According to EPA’s January 19, 2021, announcement, EPA will begin formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  There will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.  More information on EPA’s final risk evaluation is available in our January 4, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 15, 2021, that it has issued test orders under Section 4 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain additional data on nine of the next 20 chemicals undergoing risk evaluation.  EPA states that after reviewing the available data on these chemicals, it determined additional data are needed and is using its TSCA test order authority to require companies to develop and submit information on environmental hazard and inhalation and dermal exposures for workers.  According to EPA, companies subject to the test orders may provide EPA with existing data or conduct new tests.  Companies may also form consortia to consolidate costs and burden and to avoid unnecessary duplication of testing.  The nine chemicals subject to the Section 4 test orders are:

  • Chlorinated Solvents:
    • 1,1,2-Trichloroethane;
    • 1,1-Dichloroethane;
    • 1,2-Dichloroethane;
    • 1,2-Dichloropropane;
    • Trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene;
    • o-Dichlorobenzene; and
    • p-Dichlorobenzene;
  • Flame Retardants:
    • 4,4ʹ-(1-Methylethylidene)bis[2,6-dibromophenol] (TBBPA); and
    • Phosphoric acid, triphenyl ester (TPP).

EPA states that the orders and any data submitted in response to the orders will be made publicly available on EPA’s website and in applicable dockets on www.regulations.gov.  More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 5, 2021, that it is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profit organizations to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide advice and recommendations to two Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panels.

One Panel will focus on EPA’s development of a proposed rule to address unreasonable risks identified in EPA’s recently completed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for perchloroethylene.  As reported in our December 17, 2020, memorandum, of the 61 conditions of use that EPA reviewed for perchloroethylene, EPA found that 59 present unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, and bystanders.  The conditions of use that EPA determined do not present an unreasonable risk are distribution in commerce and industrial and commercial use in lubricants and greases for penetrating lubricants and cutting tool coolants.  EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment.

The second Panel will focus on a risk management rulemaking for n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).  As reported in our December 29, 2020, memorandum, of the 37 conditions of use that EPA reviewed for NMP, EPA found that 26 present unreasonable risks to workers and consumers.  These uses include an unreasonable risk to workers when domestically manufacturing or importing NMP, processing NMP for a variety of uses, and when used in a variety of industrial and commercial conditions of use.  These uses also include an unreasonable risk to consumers from one consumer use.  EPA found that NMP does not pose an unreasonable risk when distributed in commerce or in a variety of industrial and commercial and consumer applications.  EPA also determined that NMP does not present an unreasonable risk to the environment and the general population.

EPA is now moving to the risk management step in the TSCA process by working to draft regulations to protect public health from the unreasonable risks identified in the final risk evaluations.  According to EPA, the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to establish an SBAR Panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.  The SBAR Panels will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA.  The SBAR Panels will select SERs to provide comments on behalf of their companies, communities, or organizations and advise the Panels on the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.  EPA states that it is seeking self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rules’ requirements.  EPA notes that other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.  Self-nominations may be submitted online and must be received by January 19, 2021.

EPA states that in addition to engaging with small businesses, it “is executing a robust outreach effort on risk management that includes formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, and environmental justice communities.”  EPA notes that there will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulations.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final rules under Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for five persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals -- 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2,4,6-TTBP) (86 Fed. Reg. 866); decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) (86 Fed. Reg. 880); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) (86 Fed. Reg. 922); pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP) (86 Fed. Reg. 911); and phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)) (86 Fed. Reg. 894).  TSCA required EPA to take expedited action on specific PBT chemicals to address risk and reduce exposures to the extent practicable.  EPA identified these five PBT chemicals for expedited action, following criteria outlined in TSCA.  The final rules limit or prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and/or distribution in commerce for the following:

  • DecaBDEA flame retardant in plastic enclosures for televisions, computers, audio and video equipment, textiles and upholstered articles, wire and cables for communication and electronic equipment, and other applications;
     
  • PIP (3:1)A plasticizer, a flame retardant, an anti-wear additive, or an anti-compressibility additive in hydraulic fluid, lubricating oils, lubricants and greases, various industrial coatings, adhesives, sealants, and plastic articles;
     
  • 2,4,6-TTBPAn intermediate/reactant in processing, and it is incorporated into formulations destined for fuel and fuel-related additives;
     
  • HCBDA chemical used as a halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbon that is produced as a byproduct during the manufacture of chlorinated hydrocarbons; and
     
  • PCTP:  A chemical used to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses.

The final rules will be effective February 5, 2021.  More information on the final rules is available in our December 23, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Releases Final TSCA Section 6(h) Rules for Five PBT Chemicals.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted a Compliance Advisory entitled “Applicability of the Toxic Substances Control Act to Chemicals made from Petroleum and Renewable Sources Used as Fuels and Fuel Additives and Distillates.”  The Compliance Advisory states that EPA is reaffirming that chemical substances used as fuels, fuel additives, and distillates made from either petroleum or renewable sources are subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Anyone who plans to manufacture (including import) a chemical made from petroleum or renewable sources must comply with the statutory and regulatory new chemical requirements under TSCA Section 5.  According to the Compliance Advisory, EPA has received stakeholder inquiries “as to whether fuel and fuel additives made from renewable sources (such as renewable naphtha) are subject to the TSCA new chemicals requirements under section 5.”  EPA states that it is issuing the Compliance Advisory “to affirm that fuel and fuel additives either made from petroleum or renewable sources are subject to TSCA and have been subject to its requirements since 1976.”
 
According to the Compliance Advisory, there are about 142 “naphthas” and 178 “distillates” (that compositionally can qualify as naphthas) currently on the TSCA Inventory, and they are considered Unknown, Variable composition, Complex, or Biological (UVCB) substances.  Any substance that is not on the TSCA Inventory is a new chemical under TSCA Section 5(a)(1)(A).  Prior to manufacture (including import) of a new chemical for commercial use, a premanufacture notice (PMN) must be filed with EPA under TSCA Section 5.  The Compliance Advisory includes several questions and answers (Q&A), including:
 
Can you manufacture or import a chemical substance made from a renewable source if it is not listed on the TSCA Inventory?
 
No.  Anyone who intends to manufacture (including import) a new chemical substance that is subject to TSCA for a non-exempt commercial purpose is required to submit a PMN at least 90 days prior to the manufacture of the chemical.  Manufacturers (importers) are in violation of TSCA if they fail to comply or are late in complying with TSCA notice requirements.  If you are required to submit a PMN, failure to do so is a violation of TSCA Section 15 and you may be subject to penalties.  PMN submissions must include all available data, pursuant to 40 CFR 720.45 and 720.50.  TSCA requires EPA to review the notice and make a determination; and, if appropriate, regulate the proposed activity.
 
EPA’s “compliance advisory” is disappointing.  It signals this EPA is disinclined to promote renewable petroleum cuts and essentially (and emphatically) reaffirms what we believe to be EPA’s inflexible and unimaginative stance on “source” being determinative in petroleum cut UVCBs.  This position, as we have noted in a variety of regulatory contexts, is a substantial disincentive to commercializing renewable petroleum cuts.  EPA’s view is especially problematic when a refinery might wish to use a combination of petroleum and renewable feedstocks to make a single naphtha (or other distillate) cut.
 
For example, to avail itself of the equivalence determination, a company would have to submit a PMN for the renewable equivalent of a petroleum cut, sign the almost certain resultant consent order (EPA will undoubtedly identify aquatic toxicity concerns and may also identify health concerns), commence manufacture, file a Notice of Commencement of Manufacture or Import (NOC), and then request an equivalency determination.  If EPA denies the equivalency determination, any downstream processor or user will have to either segregate the renewable products from the petroleum products so that the downstream entity can maintain records of compliance with the consent order or treat both the renewable and petroleum products as being subject to the order.  Neither option is commercially feasible or sustainable.
 
This sequence of events illustrates why commercial entities are disinclined to avail themselves of renewable sources in the distillate space.  EPA’s “compliance advisory” is an unexpected and, to many, unwanted parting gift from the Trump Administration.  The Biden Administration may wish to revisit the wisdom and prudence of this inflexible, antiquated, and inequitable view.


 
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