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 Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 29, 2021, that it is evaluating its policies, guidance, templates, and regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) new chemicals program to ensure they “adhere to statutory requirements,” the Biden-Harris Administration’s executive orders, and other directives.  EPA identified several instances where its approach for making determinations and managing risks associated with new chemicals can, according to EPA, more closely align with TSCA’s requirements to ensure protections for human health and the environment, including the use of significant new use rules (SNUR) and assumptions related to worker exposures.  EPA states that it will stop issuing determinations of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” based on the existence of proposed SNURs.  According to EPA, “[r]ather than excluding reasonably foreseen conditions of use from EPA’s review of a new substance by means of a SNUR, Congress anticipated that EPA would review all conditions of use when making determinations on new chemicals and, where appropriate, issue orders to address potential risks.”  Going forward, when EPA concludes that one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA believes that it lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, EPA will issue an order to address those potential risks.

EPA states that as has been the “long-standing practice,” it intends to continue issuing SNURs following TSCA Section 5(e) and 5(f) orders for new chemicals to ensure the requirements imposed on the submitter via an order apply to any person who manufactures or processes the chemical in the future.  EPA notes that this ensures that other manufacturers of the same new chemical substance are held to the same conditions as the submitter subject to the TSCA Section 5(e) or 5(f) order.

EPA states that it now intends to ensure necessary protections for workers identified in its review of new chemicals through regulatory means.  According to the announcement, where EPA identifies a potential unreasonable risk to workers that could be addressed with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard communication, EPA will no longer assume that workers are protected adequately under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) worker protection standards and updated safety data sheets (SDS).  Instead, EPA will identify the absence of worker safeguards as “reasonably foreseen” conditions of use, and mandate necessary protections through a TSCA Section 5(e) order, as appropriate.

Commentary

The first policy change -- that the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) will no longer employ the “non-order SNUR” construction to regulate new chemicals without an order -- was somewhat predictable.  This construction, since its inception, has led to questions about whether this interpretation meets the requirements under TSCA Section 5.  In our view, EPA issuing a SNUR to prohibit conditions of use that EPA identifies as potentially leading to an unreasonable risk was an appropriate and expeditious means to achieve the protective end (the TSCA regulation) without the inefficiency and delays associated with the development of a consent order.  EPA would only use this option when EPA concluded the intended conditions of use were not likely to present an unreasonable risk.  It is not clear why a SNUR is viewed as being less protective than an order, when an order applies only to the premanufacture notice (PMN) submitter and a SNUR applies to all actors in the supply chain.  EPA is required to promulgate a SNUR that conforms to an order absent a reason otherwise.  The claim that undertaking a condition of use that is defined in a SNUR as a significant new use “requires only notification to EPA” misrepresents the rigor of the significant new use notice (SNUN) process.  A SNUN functions just like a PMN, with a similar level of effort required on the submitter’s and EPA’s parts and nearly identical determination outcomes (a consent order, modification of the existing SNUR, or revocation of the existing SNUR if warranted), so saying that a SNUN is “just a notification to EPA” is the equivalent of stating that a PMN is “just a notification to EPA.”  Detractors might also claim that orders include testing, but that presumes that testing is required for EPA to make an informed decision.  If EPA can, as it routinely does, make a decision based on conservative assumptions with analogs, models, and information provided by the submitter, EPA can similarly make an informed decision about what measures are necessary to achieve its protective goal without new test data.  In Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) view, this policy change will add marginal, if any, protective benefit at a significant increase in effort by both EPA and the submitter.

EPA’s decision that it no longer views use of PPE as reasonably foreseeable is an unwelcome and unprincipled development.  B&C, on behalf of the TSCA New Chemicals Coalition (NCC), provided, at OPPT’s request, a robust data set that demonstrated that proper PPE is rarely not used in an industrial/commercial setting.  A database of 40 years of OSHA violations contained very few glove, goggle, and general dermal protection violations -- all obvious violations to any inspector.  The marginal number of OSHA violations supports the NCC’s view that standard PPE use is both reasonably foreseeable and highly likely and demonstrably so.  Today’s unexplained reversal is difficult to reconcile with these facts.  If EPA proceeds to issue orders for every PMN that may present a risk if workers do not take routine protective measures, then EPA will be required to regulate nearly every PMN in which EPA identifies a hazard other than “low hazard” for health and ecotoxicity, as was EPA’s practice when the Lautenberg amendments were passed in 2016.  As we have stated previously, that would mean that EPA will be implementing TSCA as a hazard-based law, instead of the clear risk-based law that it is.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On January 12, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that advances collaboration and communication on EPA’s review of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA states that the MOU provides a framework for coordination and communication between the two agencies on exposure to new chemicals in the workplace and will help achieve the agencies’ shared goal of ensuring workers are protected from potential health and environmental risks.  As required by TSCA, EPA and OSHA are collaborating on workplace exposures as part of EPA’s review of new chemicals.  The MOU formalizes coordination efforts that EPA and OSHA have already implemented and provides a framework for additional opportunities for collaboration.  Highlights of the MOU include:

  • Establishing designated staff and management points of contact from each agency to discuss and resolve workplace exposure issues related to EPA’s review of new chemicals;
  • Providing OSHA with regular updates on EPA’s new chemical determinations, including any necessary worker protection identified during EPA’s review; and
  • Documenting EPA’s role in identifying and notifying OSHA of the need for formal consultation on EPA’s review of new chemicals.

More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our March 23, 2020, memorandum, on March 18, 2020, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGO) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming that EPA fails to disclose information about new chemical substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Environmental Defense Fund v. Wheeler, No. 1:20-cv-762.  On July 27, 2020, the parties submitted a joint case management statement.  According to the statement, the parties agree that the case can be resolved by motions for summary judgment and that there is no need for a trial.  The parties state that they disagree about whether administrative records exist and the availability and scope of discovery, however.  Resolving these questions will implicate the timing for any discovery, the appropriate deadline for final amended pleadings, and the appropriate schedule for summary judgment briefing.  The parties note that they are currently discussing options to resolve as many of these questions as possible and that they believe successfully resolving them could reduce the number and complexity of procedural issues before the court.  In particular, according to the statement, the parties are discussing options to narrow the scope of factual and legal issues presented, which may minimize the potential for future disputes over the availability and scope of discovery.  The parties propose to submit an updated case management statement no later than August 31, 2020.


 

The 2020 GlobalChem webinar series addresses major developments in chemicals management and provides participants a chance to engage with policymakers and other key experts throughout the chemical industry value chain.  On May 13, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. (EDT), Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), will present during the "TSCA New Chemicals" webinar.  Other presenters include Lynn Dekleva, Ph.D., Associate Deputy Assistant Administrator for New Chemicals, EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), Tala Henry, Ph.D., Deputy Director, EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT); Mike Walls, Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs, American Chemistry Council; and Ritesh Tiwari, Chemical Engineer, EPA.  The webinar will address key changes in the Section 5 program and challenges faced by EPA and submitters, including information requirements, assessment of risks, and practical tips.  Register for the 10-part webinar series online.  B&C is a proud sponsor.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 11, 2020, the availability of the latest Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory.  EPA states that this biannual update to the public TSCA Inventory is part of its regular posting of non-confidential TSCA Inventory data.  According to EPA, this update adds 81 new chemicals, and the Inventory as a whole now contains 86,405 chemicals of which 41,484 are active in U.S commerce.  Other updates to the TSCA Inventory include:

  • Updates to commercial activity data, or active/inactive status;
  • Updated regulatory flags, such as consent orders and significant new use rules (SNUR); and
  • Additional unique identifiers.

EPA notes that the TSCA inventory is a list of all existing chemical substances manufactured, processed, or imported in the United States that do not qualify for an exemption or exclusion under TSCA.  More information on the TSCA Inventory is available on EPA’s website.

 

Try our new TSCA Tutor™ online e-training platform, offering expert, efficient, essential TSCA training.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On March 5, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it issued a final rule to add two strains of microorganisms to the list of microorganisms eligible for an exemption from certain reporting requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA states that manufacturers of new intergeneric Trichoderma reesei (strain QM6a) and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (subspecies amyloliquefaciens) may now be eligible to undergo a streamlined review process under TSCA’s new chemicals review program with reduced TSCA fees.  The final rule is intended to ensure the safety of human health and the environment while reducing regulatory burden for the biotechnology industry.
 
EPA states that after reviewing all relevant health and safety data, it determined that the two microorganisms can be added to the list of microorganisms eligible for exemption.  Under TSCA, manufacturers of a new intergeneric microorganism may be eligible to submit an exemption request in lieu of a microbial commercial activity notice (MCAN) if the organism is on the list of species eligible for an exemption and meets other criteria.  EPA is including these two microorganisms on the list because it determined that the microorganisms “will not present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment provided that the other criteria relating to the introduced genetic material and the physical containment of the new microorganisms have been met.”
 
According to EPA, both microorganisms have a long history of safe use to produce a variety of commercial enzymes used in industrial and food-related industries.  Trichoderma reesei is used by the animal feed, baking, beverages, textile processing, detergent, pulp and paper, industrial chemicals, and biofuels industries.  Bacillus amyloliquefaciens has been used to produce commercial enzymes for more than 50 years.  It produces carbohydrases, proteases, nucleases, xylanases, and phosphatases that have applications in the food, brewing, distilling, and textile industries.
 
The final rule will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our December 20, 2019, blog item, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on December 20, 2019, an updated version of the “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.”  On January 2, 2020, EPA published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the updated document and beginning a 45-day comment period.  85 Fed. Reg. 99.  Comments are due February 18, 2020.
 
The updated document explains its approach for making one of the five affirmative determinations on new chemical notices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):

  • The chemical or significant new use presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • Available information is insufficient to allow EPA to make a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects associated with the chemical or significant new use;
  • In the absence of sufficient information, the chemical or significant new use may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • The chemical is or will be produced in substantial quantities and either enters or may enter the environment in substantial quantities or there is or may be significant or substantial exposure to the chemical; or
  • The chemical or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

EPA notes that the updated document reflects feedback from a 2017 public meeting and comment period and EPA’s additional experience implementing the 2016 amendments to TSCA Section 5, and includes:

  • Additional clarification and detail throughout;
  • General guiding principles and concepts for making determinations;
  • Decision-making logic and key questions that EPA must address; and
  • Example applications of the Working Approach to reach each of the affirmative determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).

EPA has posted a document summarizing public comments received on the 2017 document and its responses.  More information is available in our December 20, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Releases Updated Version of ‘Working Approach’ Document for New Chemicals Review.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on December 20, 2019, an updated version of the “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.”  EPA discussed the updated document, “TSCA New Chemical Determinations:  A Working Approach for Making Determinations under TSCA Section 5,” at a public meeting on December 10, 2019.  EPA states that the updated document explains its approach for making one of the five affirmative determinations on new chemical notices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):

  • The chemical or significant new use presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • Available information is insufficient to allow EPA to make a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects associated with the chemical or significant new use;
  • In the absence of sufficient information, the chemical or significant new use may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;
  • The chemical is or will be produced in substantial quantities and either enters or may enter the environment in substantial quantities or there is or may be significant or substantial exposure to the chemical; or
  • The chemical or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

EPA notes that the updated document reflects feedback from a 2017 public meeting and comment period and EPA’s additional experience implementing the 2016 amendments to TSCA Section 5, and includes:

  • Additional clarification and detail throughout;
  • General guiding principles and concepts for making determinations;
  • Decision-making logic and key questions that EPA must address; and
  • Example applications of the Working Approach to reach each of the affirmative determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).

EPA has posted a document summarizing public comments received on the 2017 document and its responses.  Upon publication in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comment on the updated document for 45 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0684 at https://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 December 9, 2019, that in advance of the December 10, 2019, public meeting on new chemicals, it is providing the meeting materials and announcing the availability of a new web page detailing cases with completed confidential business information (CBI) determinations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Materials for the December 10, 2019, meeting include:

The new CBI web page includes a table of all the final CBI determinations under TSCA Section 14(g).  The table contains information from CBI reviews including:

  • Case Number;
  • Submission Type;
  • CBI Review Category (specific chemical identity, other information, or both);
  • Final Determination;
  • Determination Rationale Summary;
  • For CBI Claims for Specific Chemical Identity:
  • EPA Unique Identifier (UID);
  • Accession Number;
  • Generic Name; and
  • Expiration Date for Chemical Identity and Non-Chemical Identity CBI Claims.

EPA states that it plans to update this information on a quarterly basis.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting on December 10, 2019, to engage with interested stakeholders on the implementation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals program.  At the meeting, EPA will:

  • Provide an overview of EPA’s updated “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA”;
  • Demonstrate how EPA has used concepts in the “Working Approach” document to reach conclusions and make determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3) using specific case examples;
  • Provide an update on confidential business information (CBI) process improvements and clarifications; and
  • Discuss its progress on transparency in the TSCA New Chemicals program.

By the end of 2019, EPA intends to announce the availability of the updated “Working Approach” document and provide an opportunity for written public comment.  EPA states that feedback from the public meeting and comments received will help inform its ongoing efforts to improve the way EPA reviews new chemicals under TSCA.  Details regarding the meeting are available in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice announcing the meeting.

Background

EPA states in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice that after considering comments received on the 2017 version of the “Working Approach” document and based on additional implementation experience, EPA is updating the “Working Approach” document.  Later in December 2019, EPA will announce the availability of the updated document after the public meeting and will hold a public comment period.  According to the notice, EPA expects the updated document to provide further clarity and detail on EPA’s approach and practices, including:  (1) EPA’s general guiding principles and concepts for making determinations on new chemical notices submitted to EPA under TSCA Section 5; (2) the decision-making logic and the key questions that EPA must address; and (3) a discussion of how EPA might apply the working approach to reach one of the five new chemical determinations allowable under the statute.


 
 1 2 3 >