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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on May 4, 2020, announcing the availability of and soliciting public comment on the draft Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation of perchloroethylene.  85 Fed. Reg. 26464.  EPA states that it is also submitting the same document to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) for peer review and is announcing that there will be two virtual public meetings of the TSCA SACC, with participation by phone and webcast only, and no in-person gathering.  The first virtual public meeting, on May 5, 2020, will be a preparatory meeting for SACC to consider the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for the peer review.  This meeting will be followed by the peer review public virtual meeting on May 26-29, 2020, for SACC to consider and review the draft risk evaluation.  EPA will provide any written comments submitted on the draft risk evaluation on or before May 20, 2020, to SACC for their consideration before the meeting.  Comments received after May 20, 2020, and prior to the oral public comment period during the May 26-29, 2020, meeting will be available to the SACC for their consideration during the meeting.  Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due July 6, 2020.  EPA will consider all comments received by the end of the comment period.  More information on EPA’s draft risk evaluation is available in our April 28, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Draft Risk Evaluation of Perchloroethylene.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft risk evaluation of perchloroethylene.  Perchloroethylene is the last of the first ten chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, bystanders, and the environment from certain uses.  EPA states that the primary health risk identified in the draft risk evaluation is neurological effects from short- and long-term exposure to perchloroethylene.  The risk to consumers from perchloroethylene’s use in dry cleaning is from skin exposure to items cleaned with perchloroethylene.  EPA notes that it also found environmental risks to aquatic organisms.
 
EPA will use feedback received from the peer review and public comment process to inform the final risk evaluation and will provide “frequent updates” on its progress throughout the process.  EPA notes that if its final risk evaluation finds there are unreasonable risks associated with perchloroethylene under the specific conditions of use, EPA will propose actions to address those risks within the time frame required by TSCA.  EPA’s actions could include proposed regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of perchloroethylene, as applicable.
 
EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluation, beginning a 60-day comment period.  EPA will also hold a virtual peer review meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on the draft risk evaluation May 26-29, 2020.  The virtual peer review meeting is open to the public to attend and provide comments.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On August 29, 2018, the Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce issued a press release announcing that they have renewed their request for a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the amendments made by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The Democrats note this is the fourth request they have made for hearings to be held on EPA’s management of toxic chemicals.  According to the press release, the Democrats “remain concerned that EPA’s implementation of the reformed TSCA program contradicts the new law’s language and intent and undermines public confidence in the program.”  The press release states that the Democrats “are concerned that EPA is ignoring its own scientific evidence and the recommendations of its experienced career staff regarding TSCA implementation at the expense of public health.  They point to a recent report from the New York Times that found EPA officials proposed a rulemaking to review applications for use of asbestos in consumer products over the objections of EPA attorneys and scientists.”  The Democrats “also charge that EPA has abandoned its statutory mandate to review all new and existing chemicals known or foreseeable uses and exposure putting human health and the environment at risk,” possibly resulting in an incomplete evaluation of the health and environmental risk of a number of “extremely toxic chemicals, including asbestos, perchloroethylene (PERC), methylene chloride, and trichloroethylene (TCE).”  The letter was signed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Doris Matsui (D-CA).