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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reopened the online dockets for 20 high-priority substances. According to the December 9, 2021, memorandum authorizing the re-opening of the dockets, EPA is re-opening these dockets to receive use, hazard, exposure, and any other information that can help inform their risk evaluations. Information must be submitted by June 9, 2022, when EPA will close the dockets. Information submitted to the docket should be identified by the docket identification (ID) number associated with the relevant chemical. The 20 high-priority chemicals are:

  • p-Dichlorobenzene;
  • 1,2-Dichloroethane;
  • trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene;
  • o-Dichlorobenzene;
  • 1,1,2-Trichloroethane;
  • 1,2-Dichloropropane;
  • 1,1-Dichloroethane;
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (1,2-Benzene-dicarboxylic acid, 1,2-dibutyl ester);
  • Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) (1,2-Benzene-dicarboxylic acid, 1-butyl 2-(phenylmethyl) ester);
  • Di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) (1,2-Benzene-dicarboxylic acid, 1,2-bis(2-ethylhexyl) ester);
  • Di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP) (1,2-Benzene-dicarboxylic acid, 1,2-bis-(2-methylpropyl) ester);
  • Dicyclohexyl phthalate;
  • 4,4'-(1-Methylethylidene)bis[2,6-dibromophenol] (TBBPA);
  • Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP);
  • Phosphoric acid, triphenyl ester (TPP);
  • Ethylene dibromide;
  • 1,3-Butadiene;
  • 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta [g]-2-benzopyran (HHCB);
  • Formaldehyde; and
  • Phthalic anhydride.

The docket ID number and contact information for each chemical lead is available in the memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seeking a rule requiring cigarette manufacturers to eliminate the hazardous chemicals used and to develop new product designs that eliminate or reduce the cigarette butt disposal risks to the environment. Filed by William David Bush, the petition states that the more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke come from chemicals within the soil, the paper surrounding the tobacco column, and the manufacturing process, while others are deliberately added. According to the petition, cigarette butts endanger the health of the environment, comprising 30-40 percent of items collected in annual coastal/urban cleanups. Organic compounds “seep from cigarette butts into aquatic ecosystems, becoming acutely toxic to fish and microorganisms.” The petitioner asks EPA to:

  • Determine that the chemical mixtures contained within cigarettes present an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment;
  • Order by rule that cigarette manufacturers eliminate the hazardous chemicals used in a mixture with tobacco, including but not limited to the toxic substance inclusions resulting from tobacco growing or handling techniques;
  • Order by rule that cigarette manufacturers develop new product designs that eliminate or reduce the cigarette butt disposal risks to the environment.

EPA acknowledged receipt of Bush’s petition on September 9, 2021, stating that it will grant or deny the petition by October 31, 2021.
 
EPA received a second TSCA Section 21 petition from Bush on August 16, 2021, seeking a determination that the chemical mixtures contained within cosmetics present an unreasonable risk of injury to public health and the environment. According to the petition, since 2009, almost 600 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals in more than 73,000 products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. The petition states that these toxic chemicals have been banned by the European Union (EU) “and many other nations.” The petition notes that Congress has not given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the chronic risks posed by chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics and that FDA does not have the power to suspend registration or order recalls when products pose a risk of serious adverse health consequences or death. The petition asks that EPA order by rule that cosmetic manufacturers eliminate hazardous chemicals used in mixtures, stating that examples include formaldehyde, paraformaldehyde, methylene glycol, quaternium 15, mercury, dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and m- and o-phenylenediamine.

EPA acknowledged receipt of Bush’s second petition on September 20, 2021, stating that it will grant or deny the petition by November 14, 2021.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts, Jason E. Johnston, M.S., Sheryl Lindros Dolan, and Margaret R. Graham

On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a preparatory meeting for experts selected to serve as letter peer reviewers for EPA's Exposure and Use Assessment and Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary for five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals.  A list of those chemicals is available here.  Although the meeting was scheduled for four hours, it adjourned after only two hours, as there were only a few questions from peer reviewers and only two outside stakeholders providing oral comments.  Below are some highlights/takeaways from the meeting:

  • All five PBT chemicals being reviewed scored high for hazard;
  • Two PBT chemicals were pulled from EPA action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6 because manufacturers requested risk evaluations for them prior to the September 19, 2016, deadline;
  • Four of the PBT chemicals scored high or moderate for exposure; one scored low (pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP));
  • For exposure assessment, EPA split up information as “core exposure data” or “supplemental exposure data”:  core exposure data would be environmental data, monitoring, biomonitoring, modeled concentrations, or modeled dose; and supplemental exposure data would be environmental fate, engineering data, or other information related to exposure information or pathways;
  • EPA identified exposure scenarios -- looking at source/use, environmental pathways, and receptors;
  • EPA did not conduct any new modeling on the chemicals but did use modeled data from published literature;
  • EPA did not conduct an exhaustive literature search, review, or assessment of hazard data, it used data readily available, as described in the Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary; the EPA document “Supplemental Information for the Exposure and Use Assessment of Five Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic Chemicals” outlines the literature search process used for exposure data; and
  • Exposure scenarios include both quantitative and qualitative information.

No written comments were submitted prior to the peer review webinar. Only three people signed up for oral comments, and one was not present online.  The two public commenters noted concerns regarding the likelihood of exposure, including the potential for accidental exposures; the lack of EPA focus on susceptible subpopulations; EPA’s intent not to address exposures that are already regulated under other EPA programs; and the need to assess the risk of bias.

Per the language in amended TSCA, EPA must issue risk management proposals to reduce exposures to the extent practicable by June 19, 2019.

Any public comments submitted by July 23, 2018, will be shared with peer reviewers. Comments submitted between July 23, 2018, and August 17, 2018, will be available to EPA for consideration.  All comments are due by August 17, 2018.  A recording of the webinar, slides, and other materials from the meeting will be posted in Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0314.  There are currently six supporting documents posted:

Stay up-to-date on TSCA implementation issues via our Recent Regulatory Developments web page and our TSCAblog.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On May 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would host a half-day preparatory meeting for experts selected to serve as letter peer reviewers for EPA’s Exposure and Use Assessment and Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary for Five Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) chemicals.  Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) directs EPA to issue regulations under Section 6(a) for certain PBT chemical substances that were identified in EPA’s TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments: 2014 update.  The selected chemicals are:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DECA);
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD);
  • Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP);
  • Phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1) (PIP3/ITPP); and
  • 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl) phenol (2, 4, 6 TRIS).

EPA prepared an Exposure and Use Assessment and a Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary in response to the requirements under TSCA Section 6(h) to summarize conclusions of toxicity and whether there is likely exposure to these PBT chemicals and EPA organized letter peer reviews for the Exposure and Use Assessment and the Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary.  The Federal Register notice announcing the meeting states that during the preparatory meeting, “the individual letter peer reviewers will have the opportunity to comment on and ask questions regarding the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions.”  EPA’s background papers, related supporting materials, and charge/questions for these letter peer reviews are now available in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0314 on www.regulations.gov

The meeting is scheduled for June 25, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) and will be held via teleconference and webcast only.  Registration is available online.  Those requesting to provide oral comments (approximately five minutes) are asked to register by June 21, 2018.  Though the peer reviewers may not be able to consider fully written comments submitted after July 23, 2018, EPA will consider all comments submitted on or before August 17, 2018

More information, including the list of experts, is available on EPA’s TSCA Peer Review website.


 

By Christopher R. Bryant and Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 27, 2017, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise its nearly 17-year-old standard for levels of lead in paint and dust within one year.  A Cmty. Voice v. EPA, No. 16-72816.  The Ninth Circuit held that “EPA was under a duty stemming from the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 to update lead-based paint and dust-lead hazard standards in light of the obvious need, and a duty under the Administrative Procedure Act to fully respond to petitioners’ rulemaking petition.”  The decision stems from a petition filed in June 2016 by environmental and health groups seeking this action.  The order came in the form of a writ of mandamus, an unusual court order and extraordinary judicial remedy that requires an official or agency to perform a certain duty, in this case for EPA to issue a proposed rule within 90 days of this decision and to promulgate the final rule within a year of when the proposed rule is issued.  The court stated that in doing so, it was mindful of the Agency’s arguments that officials needed more time to deliberate a complex new standard.

Commentary

While not entirely surprising given the Circuit, the decision relies on a seldom used remedy that rarely succeeds in judicial settings.  It reflects the court’s sharp rebuff of the Administration’s apparent decision to delay action on the lead standard.  Given the many challenges EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics will face in the New Year, complying with the court’s order will not be easy.