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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) published a September 16, 2019, blog item entitled “EPA’s latest move to deflect criticism of its TSCA risk evaluations: Muzzle its science advisors.”  EDF notes that it has opposed a number of recent decisions made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “that aim to limit the risks it finds when evaluating the safety of chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),” including:

  • Excluding from its analysis known human and environmental exposures to a chemical, based on the assumption that those exposures are adequately managed by other statutes;
     
  • Claiming without support that workers are protected by assuming universal and universally effective use of personal protective equipment throughout chemical supply chains and the adequacy of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that either do not apply or are out of date;
     
  • Arbitrarily loosening EPA’s longstanding risk standards governing when cancer incidences are deemed unacceptably high; and
     
  • Choosing not to exercise its enhanced authorities under TSCA to require submission of robust information on chemicals’ hazard and exposures, instead making “questionable assumptions and relying on voluntarily submitted industry data that are unrepresentative or of poor or indeterminate quality.”

EDF states that through these decisions, EPA increases the likelihood that it will either not find unreasonable risk and thereby avoid regulating the chemical, or find risks that are low enough that it can impose few restrictions.  According to EDF, in response to each of these decisions, EPA received critical comments on its draft risk evaluations from state and local governments, labor and health groups, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO), and members of the scientific community.  EDF reports that during the first several peer reviews conducted by EPA’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC), many of the SACC members raised similar concerns.  According to EDF, EPA has directed SACC “that these issues are off-limits to the peer reviewers because they represent policy decisions that are beyond the charge given to the SACC.”  EDF states that “[t]his is beyond the pale” for the following reasons:

  1. Such issues fall squarely within SACC’s charge.  EPA’s charge questions to SACC for its most recent peer review of 1-bromopropane (1-BP) “specifically (and appropriately) call on the SACC to comment on the ‘assumptions, uncertainties and data limitations in the methodology used to assess risks from 1-BP’”;
     
  2. It is “absolutely” SACC’s role and responsibility to comment on the scientific consequences of EPA’s decisions that directly affect its characterization of exposure, hazard, and risk; and
     
  3. With respect to the adequacy of the information on which EPA relies, EPA “has recently made an additional claim to the SACC:  that EPA has no choice but to use the data it has readily at hand, however limited they are.”

EDF concludes that EPA’s direction to SACC “is but the latest in a series of moves to limit the scientific information and scientific advice that EPA can obtain and use to make decisions.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Substances Control Act Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (TSCA SACC) will peer review EPA’s draft risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane (1-BP) on September 10-12, 2019.  The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia.  As reported in our August 9, 2019, blog item, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for 1-BP on August 9, 2019.  EPA made the following initial determinations on risk:

  • Unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, and consumers under certain conditions of use.  EPA notes that these initial determinations are not its final determinations on whether 1-BP presents unreasonable risks under the conditions of use.  EPA states that it will use feedback received from the public and peer review processes to inform the final risk evaluations.
     
  • No unreasonable risk to the environment.  For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment from 1-BP.

EPA requests comments on the draft risk evaluation by August 30, 2019, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  Comments received after August 30, 2019, and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to the SACC for their consideration.  EPA will continue to accept comments on the draft risk evaluations until October 11, 2019.  EPA will consider all comments received on the draft risk evaluations by the October 11, 2019, deadline when developing the final risk evaluation.  More information is available in our August 12, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Draft Risk Evaluation for 1-BP Finds Unreasonable Risks to Workers, Occupational Non-Users, Consumers, and Bystanders under Certain Specific Uses.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On August 23, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice proposing to designate 20 chemical substances as high-priority substances for risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  84 Fed. Reg. 44300.  The notice includes a summary of the approach used by EPA to support the proposed designations, the proposed designation for each of the chemical substances, and instructions on how to access the chemical-specific information, analysis, and basis used by EPA to make the proposed designation for each chemical substance.  Comments are due November 21, 2019.  More information is available in our August 26, 2019, memorandum, "EPA Proposes to Designate 20 Chemical Substances as High-Priority Substances for Risk Evaluation under TSCA."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 16, 2019, that it is opening a public comment period for manufacturer requests for the risk evaluations of diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and diisononyl phthalate (DINP), two chemicals used in plastic production.  EPA notes that the manufacturer-requested risk evaluations “are among the first such evaluations of this kind to be requested” under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA is also taking public comments on additional conditions of use it identified to include in the risk evaluations.  Upon publication of the Federal Register notices, comments may be submitted to Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0435 for DIDP and Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0436 for DINP for 45 days.  EPA encourages comments on any information not included in the manufacturer requests that commenters believe would be needed to conduct a risk evaluation.  EPA also welcomes any other information relevant to the proposed determinations of the conditions of use, including information on other conditions of use of the chemicals than those included in the manufacturer requests or in EPA’s proposed determinations.  After the comment period closes, EPA will review the comments and within 60 days either grant or deny the requests to conduct risk evaluations.  If these requests are granted, the manufacturers would be responsible for half the cost of the risk evaluations.  More information is available in our August 19, 2019, memorandum, "EPA Begins Comment Period on Manufacturer Requests for Risk Evaluation of DIDP and DINP, and Identifies Additional Conditions of Use."


 

By Carla N. Hutton, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Amanda Bland
 
On August 13, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the list of 20 chemical substances that it proposes to designate as low-priority substances for which risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is not warranted at this time.  EPA’s August 15, 2019, proposed rule provides a summary of the approach used by EPA to support the proposed designations, the proposed designations for each of the chemical substances, and instructions on how to access the chemical-specific information, analysis, and basis used by EPA to make the proposed designation for each chemical substance.  84 Fed. Reg. 41712.  EPA published its Approach Document for Screening Hazard Information for Low-Priority Substances Under TSCA (Approach Document), which describes the literature review process for the information used in the screening review for each proposed low-priority chemical substance.  Comments on the proposed designations and on EPA’s Approach Document are due November 13, 2019.

Commentary

As expected, EPA has formally proposed as low-priority substances the 20 substances that EPA proposed in March as potential low-priority substances.  Stakeholders will have 90 days to comment on whether EPA has met the statutory obligation to have information “sufficient to establish” that the substances do not meet the standard for high-priority substances (that the substances may present an unreasonable risk).  Comments were filed on only seven of the 20 substances initially identified as low priority, and all comments supported the designations as low priority. 
 
More information is available in our August 14, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Proposes to Designate 20 Chemical Substances as Low-Priority Substances.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on August 9, 2019, the draft risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane (1-BP), the fourth of the first ten chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA made the following initial determinations on risk:

  • Unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, and consumers under certain conditions of use.  EPA notes that these initial determinations are not its final determinations on whether 1-BP presents unreasonable risks under the conditions of use.  EPA states that it will use feedback received from the public and peer review processes to inform the final risk evaluations.
  • No unreasonable risk to the environment.  For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment from 1-BP.

EPA states that these initial determinations may change as its evaluation becomes more refined through the public and peer review process.  The draft risk evaluation, including initial risk determinations as to whether the chemical under the conditions of use presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment, is not final.  If unreasonable risk is found for one or more conditions of use in a final risk evaluation, EPA will propose actions to address those risks within the timeframe required by TSCA.

The TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will peer review the draft risk evaluation at a September 10-12, 2019, meeting.  EPA will hold a preparatory virtual meeting on August 21, 2019, to discuss the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions to SACC.  EPA requests comments on the draft risk evaluation by August 30, 2019, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  Comments received after August 30, 2019, and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to the SACC for their consideration.  EPA will continue to accept comments on the draft risk evaluations until October 11, 2019.  EPA will consider all comments received on the draft risk evaluations by the October 11, 2019, deadline when developing the final risk evaluation.  More information is available in our August 12, 2019, memorandum, "EPA Draft Risk Evaluation for 1-BP Finds Unreasonable Risks to Workers, Occupational Non-Users, Consumers, and Bystanders under Certain Specific Uses."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed its response to the non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) supplemental brief in a case challenging EPA’s prioritization and risk evaluation rules.  Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families v. EPA, No. 17-72260.  According to EPA, petitioners “have plausibly alleged standing to challenge only the definitional interpretation of ‘conditions of use’ and the two provisions still subject to EPA’s motion for voluntary remand.”  As to the remainder of petitioners’ claims, EPA maintains that their allegations “are based on hypotheticals and other non-final agency actions currently being considered by the agency.”  EPA argues that the court should dismiss petitioners’ challenges to:  (1) EPA’s preamble statements about the potential scope of future risk evaluations; (2) EPA’s regulatory provisions leaving the door open to issue early risk determinations; and (3) the remaining information-gathering provisions still at issue.  EPA states that if it “ever takes final agency actions based on the decisions Petitioners hypothesize, those would be the proper actions for Petitioners’ challenges.”
 
A coalition of industry associations filed a supplemental brief in support of EPA on June 28, 2019.  The coalition states:  “Although it is theoretically possible that EPA could exclude a use of a particular chemical that could affect the risk evaluation in a way that could cause the agency not to regulate some use of a chemical that could injure Petitioners’ members, that does not create a justiciable controversy now, before the Rules have been applied.”  (Emphasis in original.)  The coalition asks the court to dismiss the petitions for lack of jurisdiction.
 
As reported in our June 26, 2019, blog item, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments on May 16, 2019, and afterward ordered petitioners to file a supplemental brief addressing why they should be allowed to bring a lawsuit against EPA.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On June 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft risk evaluations for cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD) and 1,4-dioxane, two of the first ten chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  In its June 28, 2019, press release, EPA states in the draft risk evaluation for HBCD, it did not find unreasonable risk to the general population, consumers, workers, or the environment.  According to EPA, in the draft risk evaluation for 1,4-dioxane, EPA did not find unreasonable risk to the environment, but the data “show there could be unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances.”  EPA states:  “It is important to note that for the general population, including children, environmental statutes administered by EPA such as the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, adequately assess and effectively manage risks from 1,4-dioxane.”

On Monday, July 1, 2019, EPA will publish a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluations and beginning a 60-day comment period.  The draft risk evaluations will be peer reviewed by the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on July 29- August 2, 2019.  SACC will hold a preparatory virtual meeting to discuss the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions on July 10, 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On May 16, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in a case filed by non-governmental organizations (NGO) challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prioritization and risk evaluation rules.  Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families v. EPA, No. 17-72260.  During oral arguments, the court asked the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) whether it had standing to be before the court.  NRDC responded that it does, arguing that EPA’s rules violate the statutory requirements of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.  The court suggested that petitioners could wait to see whether EPA will ignore certain uses of chemicals in its risk evaluations.  EPA maintained that petitioners were raising a challenge to a hypothetical scenario and that EPA has the legal discretion to study whichever chemical uses it sees fit.  Following oral argument, on May 16, 2019, the court ordered petitioners to file a supplemental brief addressing why they should be allowed to bring a lawsuit against EPA.  The petitioners filed their supplemental brief on June 3, 2019, arguing that they have standing because the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Framework Rules threaten their members’ concrete interests in minimizing toxic chemical exposures; they have information standing for each of their challenges to the Framework Rules; and their claims are ripe.  EPA was granted an extension and its response is due June 28, 2019.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.

On June 14, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that on May 24, 2019, EPA received manufacturer requests for EPA to conduct risk evaluations of diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) from ExxonMobil Chemical Company and diisononyl phthalate (DINP) from ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Evonik Corporation, and Teknor Apex, both through the American Chemistry Council’s High Phthalates Panel.  EPA states that both DIDP and DINP belong to a family of chemicals commonly referred to as phthalates, which are used as plasticizers in the production of plastic and plastic coatings to increase flexibility and were identified in the 2014 Update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan.

Within 15 business days of receiving a facially complete request (i.e., submission appears to be consistent with rule requirements), EPA states that it must notify the public of receipt of this request under 40 C.F.R. Section 702.37(e)(2); and within 60 business days of receipt of a facially complete request, EPA will submit for publication the receipt of the request in the Federal Register, open a public docket for the request, and provide no less than 45 calendar days for public comment.  After the comment period closes, EPA has up to 60 days to either grant or deny the request to conduct a risk evaluation under 40 C.F.R. Section 702.37(e)(6).  More information on Manufacturer Requests is available on EPA’s website.


 
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