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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 December 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final risk evaluation for perchloroethylene.  The final risk evaluation determined that there are unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, and bystanders from 59 out of 61 conditions of uses:

  • Consumers and Bystanders:  EPA found unreasonable risks to consumers and bystanders from all consumer uses of perchloroethylene.  Common consumer uses include as a dry cleaning solvent; in cleaning and furniture care products; automotive care products like brake cleaners, lubricants, and greases; and adhesives in arts and crafts.  The risk to consumers from perchloroethylene’s use in dry cleaning is from short-term skin exposure to items cleaned with perchloroethylene; and
     
  • Workers and ONUs:  EPA found unreasonable risks to workers from all but two occupational uses of perchloroethylene.  Additionally, EPA found unreasonable risks from most commercial uses of perchloroethylene to workers nearby but not in direct contact with perchloroethylene (known as ONUs).  This includes an unreasonable risk to workers and ONUs when domestic manufacturing or importing perchloroethylene; processing as a reactant and intermediate; incorporation into cleaning and degreasing products; uses in a variety of industrial and commercial applications such as degreasing, dry cleaning, in adhesives and sealants, and in paints and coatings; and disposal.  The primary health risk identified in the final risk evaluation is neurological effects from short- and long-term exposure to perchloroethylene.  The conditions of use in the final risk evaluation 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 next step in the process required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is developing a plan to address the unreasonable risks identified in the final risk evaluation.  EPA states that it “is moving immediately to risk management for this chemical and will work as quickly as possible to propose and finalize actions to protect against the unreasonable risks.”  Potential actions EPA could take to address these risks include regulating how perchloroethylene is used or limiting or prohibiting the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of perchloroethylene, as applicable.  EPA notes that as with any chemical product, it “strongly recommends that users of products containing perchloroethylene continue to carefully follow all instructions on the product’s label and safety data sheet.”  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) 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.