By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 10, 2020, that the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program released the ORD Staff Handbook for Developing IRIS Assessments (IRIS Handbook) for public comment. EPA states that the IRIS Handbook provides operating procedures for developing IRIS assessments, including problem formulation approaches and methods for conducting systematic review, dose response analysis, and developing toxicity values. The IRIS Handbook notes that it does not supersede existing EPA guidance and does not serve as guidance for other EPA programs. EPA will publish a Federal Register notice announcing the beginning of a 90-day public comment period on the IRIS Handbook and on the draft charge questions for reviewers in advance of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) peer review. EPA will summarize comments received and provide them to the committee conducting the peer review. EPA has posted a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice.
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 Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
On May 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that on May 30, 2019, it will begin publishing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 notices including premanufacture notices (PMN), microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN), and significant new use notices (SNUN), their attachments, including any health and safety studies, any modifications thereto, and all other associated information in ChemView -- in the form they are received by EPA, without review by EPA. EPA states that it will not be reviewing confidential business information (CBI)-sanitized filings before publishing. EPA states that this announcement will be the first of several reminders that EPA sends and, in addition, EPA has incorporated a reminder to check accompanying sanitized submissions as part of the Central Data Exchange (CDX) reporting module for TSCA Section 5 notices.
EPA’s announcement states the following as guidance for submitters to take heed of before submitting their TSCA Section 5 notices:
- Verify the asserted CBI claims are correct and consistent; and
- Verify the sanitized versions of the form, attachments, and file names are checked for proper and consistent CBI redactions and that watermarks or stamps indicating CBI are removed.
EPA does not specify how long after submission the documents may be posted, but submitters should expect a very short turn-around. Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has addressed the topic of CBI before, most recently on our podcast, All Things Chemical™. When completing a PMN, a submitter must take care to ensure that all information that must be protected as CBI is marked as such. A submitter cannot expect EPA to extrapolate a claim for CBI in one part of a form to the rest of the document and its attachments. B&C strongly suggests that a submitter review the sanitized form of an entire document (e.g., a PMN and its attachments) to ensure that all sensitive information is redacted before submitting the document to EPA.
Do not wait until May 30. Begin developing and practicing good CBI practices today.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.
On April 17, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of updated systematic review supplemental files with data evaluation scoring sheets as supporting documents for the draft risk evaluation for Colour Index (C. I.) Pigment Violet 29 (PV29) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 84 Fed. Reg. 16011. EPA states it is “seeking public comment on the draft risk evaluation for PV29 in light of the additional materials already made or being made publicly available.” In her April 16, 2019, blog item, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, described the updated systematic review documents for PV29 as “a tool that guides our review and selection of scientific studies used to evaluate chemicals,” and that the updates were made “based on public input we received during the initial comment period.”
On March 22, 2019, EPA made 24 full study reports on PV29 available to the public, in some instances with information withheld as confidential business information (CBI) pursuant to EPA regulations. EPA has considered these materials in the risk evaluation process of PV29 and has also submitted these materials to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). EPA states that comments submitted will be considered by the agency and also provided to the TSCA SACC peer review panel, which will have the opportunity to consider the comments during its discussions.
The comment period for the draft risk evaluation of CI PV29 closed on January 14, 2019, but via this notice is being extended. The Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the updated systematic review supplemental files lists a comment deadline of the same date as the notice -- April 17, 2019, but Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0604-0038, however, lists a comment deadline of May 17, 2019; it is most likely that the docket is correct in this instance especially considering that follows what was stated by Ms. Dunn in her blog item that in light of the new and updated information EPA has recently released, "we will be reopening the public comment on the draft risk evaluation for PV29. It is important that the public have the opportunity to provide input on all of the information EPA is considering before our risk evaluation is finalized, so we invite you to provide us with your feedback. The public comment period will reopen for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On February 8, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its notice extending the review periods for all Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMN), Significant New Use Notices (SNUN), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA Section 5 before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not expired as of December 29, 2018. 84 Fed. Reg. 2851. The notice states that EPA requires an extension of the review periods to complete its risk assessments, to examine its regulatory options, and to prepare the necessary documents associated with the relevant determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3). The duration of the extension period is a total of 33 days, but the notice states that because the extension is less than 90 days, EPA reserves the right under TSCA Section 5(c) to issue, for good cause, future additional extensions for individual cases up to a total of 90 days.
More information on why EPA has chosen to do this is in our blog item regarding the pre-publication version of this notice “EPA Extends Review Periods for TSCA Section 5 PMNs, SNUNs, MCANs and Exemption Notices Due to Lack of Authorized Funding and Shutdown.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Margaret R. Graham
On February 1, 2019, Lynn Vendinello, Acting Director, Chemical Control Division, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) signed the pre-publication version of a notice announcing that, due to the recent lapse of appropriations and the Agency shutdown, EPA is extending the review periods for all Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMN), Significant New Use Notices (SNUN), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA Section 5 before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not expired as of December 29, 2018.
Due to a lack of authorized funding, from December 29, 2018, until EPA operations for the TSCA New Chemicals operations fully resumed on January 31, 2019, certain EPA functions were suspended including the processing of submissions made through the Central Data Exchange (CDX), e-PMN, or other methods. Further, no review work was performed on the TSCA section 5 notifications received by EPA on or before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not yet expired as of December 29, 2018. Consequently, the review period for any TSCA Section 5 notice submitted during the shutdown did not begin until TSCA New Chemical operations fully resumed on January 31, 2019.
EPA states that the duration of the extension period will be a total of 33 days, which is equivalent to the duration of the time period from December 29, 2018 (the date on which certain EPA operations shutdown) and the date on which EPA operations for the TSCA New Chemicals Program fully resumed (January 31, 2019). The notice states that EPA requires an extension of the review periods to complete its risk assessments, to examine its regulatory options, and to prepare the necessary documents associated with the relevant determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On January 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Year in Review: 2018 (YIR). The YIR lists the following accomplishments:
- Issued major proposals, including the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, and the new waters of the U.S. definition;
- Provided greater regulatory certainty to states, tribes, localities, and the regulated community;
- Streamlined the effectiveness and efficiency of EPA;
- Launched cross-agency initiatives to improve risk communication on emerging contaminants and vulnerable populations;
- Initiated multiple actions to reduce lead exposure, including releasing the Federal Lead Action Plan;
- Improved enforcement compliance and assistance;
- Held EPA’s first-ever Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) National Leadership Summit and Inaugural Recycling Day Summit;
- Led international environmental efforts, including first-ever articles to prevent and reduce marine litter; and
- Ensured comprehensive and coordinated responses to multiple natural disasters.
The YIR provides the following “by the numbers” summary:
- Regulatory Reform: EPA issued 13 final deregulatory actions in 2018. To date, under President Trump, EPA has issued 33 final major deregulatory actions, “saving Americans almost $2 billion”;
- Air: EPA reported that, during President Trump’s first year in office, greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources decreased by 2.7 percent;
- Water: By the end of 2018, EPA closed seven Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling nearly $2 billion to help finance over $4 billion for water infrastructure projects and create up to 6,000 jobs;
- Land: EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from Superfund’s National Priorities List in fiscal year (FY) 2018 -- “the largest number of deletions in one year since FY 2005”;
- Chemicals: After inheriting a “backlog” of 672 new chemical submissions pending review in January 2017, under President Trump, EPA “aggressively worked to improve the review of new chemical submissions and, as a result, eliminated the initial backlog and reduced the number of cases pending review to 475 submissions by August 2018.” EPA completed 99.7 percent of the 2,199 pesticide registration actions on-time, and registered 23 new active ingredients and 147 new uses of existing pesticides, “providing new tools to growers to meet their pest management needs”;
- Enforcement: In FY 2018, EPA enforcement actions required the treatment, disposal, or elimination of 809 million pounds of pollutants and waste -- almost twice as much as FY 2017. EPA also entered into the largest settlement in the history of its enforcement of the Risk Management Program with the responsible party spending $150 million on major safety improvements; and
- Grants: EPA awarded $4,451,520,905 in grants in FY 2018, including more than $63 million under the General Assistance Program, benefiting nearly all federally recognized tribes through awards to 500 tribal governments and approximately 25 intertribal consortia, $4.344 million in State and Tribal Assistance Grants, and 37 environmental education grants totaling $3,306,760 in 32 states to 13 colleges and universities, 23 stakeholder organizations, and one tribal community.
Further information on the YIR and our commentary is available in the full Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) memorandum.
By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. and Margaret R. Graham
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently closed due to the lapse in appropriations, EPA has ceased all work reviewing new and existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Regarding new chemicals, although the Central Data Exchange (CDX) may still accept submissions, EPA will not process any information submitted via CDX until EPA reopens and it is not clear how EPA will set “Day 1” for TSCA Section 5 notices submitted during the shutdown.
We are unaware of EPA publishing a formal notice that it is suspending the review period of new chemical notices, but EPA will not be making any determinations on such notices during the shutdown. Submitters should continue to submit any required information (e.g., Notices of Commencement) even though EPA will not process or review such submissions.
EPA actions on existing chemicals (including risk evaluations and publication of the updated TSCA Inventory with active/inactive status) will be delayed. As previously reported, the first preparatory meeting on the Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 risk evaluation (scheduled for January 8, 2019) will be cancelled if the shutdown continues through January 4, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., which appears probable.
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.”