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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 28, 2021, it is granting a petition from six North Carolina public health and environmental justice organizations filed under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to compel companies to conduct testing of certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The previous Administration denied the petition on January 22, 2021. 86 Fed. Reg. 6602. The petition sought issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling The Chemours Company to fund and carry out this testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists. The petitioners requested that EPA reconsider its denial in March 2021, which EPA agreed to do in September 2021, in light of the change in Administration and attendant change in policy priorities concerning PFAS. As reported in our October 19, 2021, memorandum, EPA published a National PFAS Testing Strategy (Testing Strategy) that identifies priority substances for the first of several described phases of an iterative testing approach based on grouping of chemicals by chemistry features and available toxicity data. EPA states that these substances include many of the chemicals identified in the petition, as well as additional PFAS that will inform a wider universe of categories of PFAS where key data are lacking. For example, according to EPA, the first phase of testing on 24 PFAS is expected to provide data that can be extrapolated to 2,950 PFAS that belong to the same categories as the 24 individual substances.

EPA states that it has granted the petition and will use its TSCA Section 4 order authority to require PFAS manufacturers to conduct and fund the following studies that will provide toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS:

  • Near-Term Testing Covers 30 of 54 Petition Chemicals -- Under the Testing Strategy, EPA’s first test orders for 24 categories of PFAS about which the least is known will provide human health hazard data that cover 30 of the 54 petition chemicals;
  • Subsequent Testing May Cover Nine of 54 Petition Chemicals -- An additional nine PFAS identified in the petition belong to one other category included in the Testing Strategy. EPA is conducting more in-depth analyses of the sufficiency of the existing data, which will inform later phases of testing;
  • Remaining 15 of 54 Petition Chemicals -- According to EPA, 15 chemicals identified in the petition do not fit the definition of PFAS used in developing the Testing Strategy. EPA has determined that there are robust data on some of them available to it. EPA is conducting more in-depth analyses of the existing data, which will inform later phases of testing;
  • Mixtures Studies -- EPA will address PFAS mixtures by using the toxicity of the individual substances to predict the toxicity of the mixture, an approach which is consistent with the current state-of-science on PFAS. EPA is proceeding with development and peer review of these methods as specifically applied to PFAS;
  • Human Studies -- EPA is contributing to and reviewing numerous existing ongoing human studies, including studies on potentially exposed workers and communities in North Carolina, and is evaluating how to advance and expand on these efforts further. These include studies of health outcomes for people in communities impacted by industrial PFAS releases, as well studies that explore the connection between chronic health outcomes and PFAS exposures in North Carolina; and
  • Analytical Standards -- EPA does not believe it is appropriate to require the development or submission of analytical standards with the initial test orders that will be issued under the Testing Strategy and lacks the ability to order the submission of all analytical standards in the manner requested. Nonetheless, EPA has requested comment on whether to require the submission of existing analytical methods for PFAS under a separate rulemaking that the Agency expects to issue in final next year.

Commentary

EPA’s reversal is hardly surprising. The Biden Administration’s commitment to obtaining information on PFAS is clear and has been reinforced in many contexts. In her remarks before the Committee on Energy and Commerce on October 27, 2021, for example, Assistant Administrator Freedhoff stated that EPA is “scouring all sources of information to identify important gaps in existing data and to select representative chemicals within identified categories or additional testing.” Reconsidering the prior Administration’s denial of the Section 21 petition seems like a no-brainer.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 31, 2021, the availability of the latest Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory. EPA states that the biannual update to the public TSCA Inventory is part of its regular posting of non-confidential TSCA Inventory data. EPA plans the next regular update of the Inventory for winter 2022. According to EPA, the Inventory contains 86,607 chemicals of which 41,953 are active in U.S commerce. Other updates to the TSCA Inventory include new chemical substance additions, commercial activity data and regulatory flags, such as polymer exemptions, TSCA Section 4 test orders, and TSCA Section 5 significant new use rules (SNUR). In April 2021, EPA released a list of 390 chemicals expected to lose their confidential status and move to the public portion of the Inventory. EPA states that it continues to work on final declassifications for these chemicals and plans to include them in the next public posting of the TSCA Inventory.


 

This week's All Things Chemical™ Podcast will be of interest to readers of the TSCAblog™. A brief description of the episode written by Lynn L. Bergeson is below.

This week, I sat down with Heather J. Blankinship, Senior Manager with B&C® Consortia Management (BCCM), a Bergeson & Campbell (B&C®) affiliate, and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., B&C’s Director of Chemistry, to discuss chemical testing under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Since Congress amended TSCA in 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been slowly ratcheting up required chemical testing under TSCA Section 4. Congress gave EPA expanded testing authority under the 2016 Amendments, and EPA is exercising its new authority to compel chemical data production. These test orders authorize EPA to demand the production of new test data by the manufacturers and sometimes processors of the chemical substances at issue. Transactionally, this means that competitors in the marketplace band together to generate the data EPA seeks. We discuss the reality of quickly forming these consortia and the business and scientific challenges consortia managers face in complying with these federally enforceable test orders. It is not as easy as you may think!

ALL MATERIALS IN THIS PODCAST ARE PROVIDED SOLELY FOR INFORMATIONAL  AND ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES. THE MATERIALS ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES. ALL LEGAL QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ANSWERED DIRECTLY BY A LICENSED ATTORNEY PRACTICING IN THE APPLICABLE AREA OF LAW.

©2021 Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.  All Rights Reserved


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On May 21, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its response to a portion of the petition it received February 8, 2021, from People for Protecting Peace River, Center for Biological Diversity, and 16 other organizations. 86 Fed. Reg. 27546. While the petition requested three actions related to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA states that it has determined that only one of those actions is an appropriate request: a request to issue a test rule under TSCA requiring testing of phosphogypsum and process wastewater from phosphoric acid production. According to the notice, EPA is treating the other portions of the petition involving TSCA as a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); those other portions request EPA to initiate the prioritization process for designating phosphogypsum and process wastewater as high-priority substances for risk evaluation and to make a determination by rule under TSCA that the use of phosphogypsum in road construction is a significant new use. Therefore, the notice does not provide EPA’s response to these two TSCA-requested actions. Also, it does not address the petitioners’ requests under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA states that “[a]fter careful consideration,” it has denied the TSCA Section 21 portion of the petition for the following reasons:

  • Request for prioritization under TSCA Section 6 and related testing under TSCA Section 4(a)(2)(B): Because TSCA Section 21 does not provide an avenue for petitioners to request the initiation of the prioritization process for phosphogypsum and process wastewater, EPA is treating this portion of the request as a petition for action under the APA. Petitioners assert that “should EPA initiate prioritization but find that the development of new information is necessary to finalize a prioritization decision for phosphogypsum and process wastewater, EPA should exercise its authority under section 4(a)(2)(B) to obtain that information and establish priority.” EPA states that because it is not addressing the request for prioritization and has not otherwise initiated prioritization on phosphogypsum or process wastewater, it is not in a position to exercise its authority under TSCA Section 4(a)(2)(B) in the manner and for the reason described by petitioners.
  • Request for significant new use rule (SNUR) under TSCA Section 5: TSCA Section 21 does not provide for the submission of a petition seeking the initiation of a rule under TSCA Section 5. EPA states that SNURs are issued under the authority of TSCA Section 5(a)(2). Since TSCA Section 21 does not provide an avenue for petitioners to request the initiation of a proceeding to make a determination by rule under TSCA Section 5(a), EPA is treating this portion of the request as a petition for action under the APA.
  • Request for issuance of a test rule under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A): According to the notice, TSCA Section 21 does provide for the submission of a petition seeking issuance of a test rule under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A). EPA states that it finds that the petitioners have not met their burden as defined in TSCA Sections 4(a)(1)(A) and 21(b)(1) because the petitioners have not provided the facts necessary to determine for phosphogypsum and process wastewater that existing information and experience are insufficient and testing with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.

More information about the petition is available in our March 12, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Receives Petition Seeking RCRA and TSCA Regulatory Action for Phosphogypsum and Process Wastewater.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on April 28, 2021, announcing a 30-day comment period on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Interagency Testing Committee’s (ITC) revisions to the Priority Testing List.  86 Fed. Reg. 22414.  In the 74th ITC Report, ITC revised the TSCA Section 4(e) Priority Testing List by adding the following 15 high-priority substances designated pursuant to TSCA Section 6(b) and 24 organohalogen flame retardants:

Chemical Substance Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number
High-Priority Substances
1,3-Butadiene 106-99-0
Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) - 1,2-Benzene- dicarboxylic acid, 1- butyl 2(phenylmethyl) ester 85-68-7
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (1,2-Benzene- dicarboxylic acid, 1,2- dibutyl ester) 84-74-2
o-Dichlorobenzene 95-50-1
p-Dichlorobenzene 106-46-7
trans-1,2- Dichloroethylene 156-60-5
1,2-Dichloropropane 78-87-5
Dicyclohexyl phthalate 84-61-7
Di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) - (1,2-Benzene- dicarboxylic acid, 1,2- bis(2- ethylhexyl) ester) 117-81-7
Di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP) - (1,2-Benzene- dicarboxylic acid, 1,2- bis-(2methylpropyl) ester) 84-69-5
Formaldehyde 50-00-0
1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta [g]-2-benzopyran (HHCB) 1222-05-5
Phthalic anhydride 85-44-9
4,4'-(1-Methylethylidene)bis[2, 6-dibromophenol] (TBBPA) 79-94-7
1,1,2-Trichloroethane 79-00-5
Organohalogen Flame Retardants
Bis(hexachlorocyclopentadieno)cyclooctane 13560-89-9
1,2-Bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane 37853-59-1
1,1'-Ethane-1,2-diylbis(pentabromobenzene) 84852-53-9
2-(2-Hydroxyethoxy)ethyl 2-hydroxypropyl 3,4,5,6-tetrabromophthalate 20566-35-2
2,2'-[(1-Methylethylidene)bis[(2,6-dibromo-4,1-
phenylene)oxymethylene]]bis[oxirane]
3072-84-2
Mixture of chlorinated linear alkanes C14-17 with 45-52 % chlorine 85535-85-9
N,N-Ethylene-bis(tetrabromophthalimide) 32588-76-4
Pentabromochlorocyclohexane 87-84-3
(Pentabromophenyl)methyl acrylate 59447-55-1
Pentabromotoluene 87-83-2
Perbromo-1,4-diphenoxybenzene 58965-66-5
Phosphonic acid, (2-chloroethyl)-, bis(2-chloroethyl) ester 6294-34-4
Propanoic acid, 2-bromo-, methyl ester 5445-17-0
Tetrabromobisphenol A-bis(2,3-dibromopropyl ether) 21850-44-2
Tetrabromobisphenol A bis(2-hydroxyethyl) ether 4162-45-2
Tetrabromobisphenol A diallyl ether 25327-89-3
Tetrabromobisphenol A dimethyl ether 37853-61-5
2,4,6-Tribromoaniline 147-82-0
1,3,5-Tribromo-2-(prop-2-en-1-yloxy)benzene 3278-89-5
Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphite 140-08-9
Tris(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate 126-72-7
1,3,5-Tris(2,3-dibromopropyl)-1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6(1H,3H,5H)-trione 52434-90-9
Tris(tribromoneopentyl)phosphate 19186-97-1
2,4,6-Tris-(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)-1,3,5-triazine 25713-60-4

ITC requests that EPA add these chemical substances and the other five high-priority substances and six organohalogen flame retardants currently on the Priority Testing List to 40 C.F.R. Section 716.120(a), the list of substances subject to the TSCA Section 8(d) Health and Safety Data Reporting rule (40 C.F.R. Part 716).  The rule requires manufacturers (including importers) of chemical substances and mixtures added to the Health and Safety Data Reporting rule to submit lists and copies of unpublished health and safety studies to EPA.  Comments are due May 28, 2021.
 
EPA notes that in addition to the chemical substances being added to the Priority Testing List in the 74th ITC Report, the Priority Testing List includes two alkylphenols, 45 High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program orphan chemicals, cadmium, a category of cadmium compounds, six non-phthalate plasticizers, 25 phosphate ester flame retardants, two other flame retardants, nine chemicals to which children living near hazardous waste sites may be exposed, and 19 diisocyanates and related compounds.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 3, 2021, the latest update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory, “a list of all existing chemical substances manufactured, processed, or imported” in the United States.  EPA states that this biannual update to the public TSCA Inventory is part of its regular posting of non-confidential TSCA Inventory data.  EPA plans to release the next regular update of the Inventory in summer 2021.  According to EPA, the Inventory contains 86,557 chemicals of which 41,864 are active in U.S commerce.  EPA notes that other updates to the TSCA Inventory include new chemical substance additions, commercial activity data, and regulatory flags, such as polymer exemptions, TSCA Section 4 test orders, and TSCA Section 5 significant new use rules (SNUR).


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 22, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the reasons for its denial of a petition requesting it to require health and environmental effects testing on 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  86 Fed. Reg. 6602.  The petition sought issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling The Chemours Company (Chemours) to fund and carry out this testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists.  EPA states that it finds the petitioners have not provided the facts necessary for it to determine for each of the 54 PFAS that “existing information and experience are insufficient and testing of such substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.”  After “careful consideration,” EPA denied the TSCA petition for the following reasons:

  • Insufficient Information and Experience:  According to EPA, the petition does not set forth the facts necessary to demonstrate that there is “insufficient information and experience” for each of the 54 PFAS.  The petitioners state, in part, “[f]or the 54 PFAS, the sufficiency of available information should be determined by comparing available data with the known adverse effects of other PFAS.  The goal should be to conduct a scientifically sound assessment of each of the 54 chemicals for the critical toxic endpoints that have been identified in studies on [perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)], [perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)] and other well-characterized studies.”  EPA states that the petitioners do not provide evidence that they conducted an assessment to support a finding of insufficient information and experience, however;
     
  • Testing of Such Substance or Mixture with Respect to Such Effects Is Necessary to Develop Such Information:  According to EPA, the petitioners do not demonstrate “testing of such substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.”  EPA finds that the petitioners failed to address ongoing testing and data collections for some of the 54 PFAS, thereby failing to set forth facts that are necessary to establish there is a need for the testing sought in the petition.  According to EPA, this research may provide information that overlaps with testing the petitioners requested, which would render the information unnecessary under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A)(i)(III);
     
  • Class-Based Approach to Testing:  TSCA Section 4(h)(1)(B)(ii) “encourage[s]” EPA to consider “the grouping of 2 or more chemical substances into scientifically appropriate categories in cases in which testing of a chemical substance would provide scientifically valid and useful information on other chemical substances in the category.”  EPA states that it “is currently investigating ways to group similar PFAS by likeness into subcategories for purposes of research, data collection, hazard determinations, and other activities.”  EPA notes that it collaborated with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) “to construct a PFAS screening library subset composed of 75 PFAS on a structural category basis and considerations such as structural diversity within a category, data availability, and read-across category-level weight (e.g., value of substance for anchoring read-across trends within a category, serving as an analog); four of the 54 PFAS the petitioners identify are included in this subset.”  While the petitioners mention this effort, they “incorrectly state that just two of the 54 PFAS the petitioners cover are included in the EPA testing.”
     
  • Practicability of National Academy of Sciences Oversight:  The petitioners also request that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) oversee all aspects of the proposed testing program.  EPA states that it “finds such an oversight arrangement is not within the scope of what a TSCA section 21 petitioner can request when seeking the initiation of a rule or the issuance of an order under TSCA section 4.”  Furthermore, according to EPA, projects and studies must meet certain conditions for the NAS to accept private funding.  EPA concludes that it is not in a position to require NAS to oversee the testing requested by the petitioners, and the petitioners provide no administrative or organizational procedures for implementation.
     
  • Selection of PFAS for Health and Environmental Effects Testing:  The petitioners divide the 54 PFAS at issue into Tier 1 substances “for which there is known human exposure based on detection in blood, food or drinking water,” and Tier 2 substances “for which human exposure is probable based on detection in environmental media.”  According to EPA, the petitioners do not set forth facts showing that for all 40 PFAS it ranks as Tier 2 substances “human exposure is probable based on detection in environmental media” or that “a strong inference of exposure can be drawn from their presence in surface water, stormwater, wastewater, sediment, groundwater, soil, private wells, and/or air emissions,” however.
     
  • Scientific Standards:  EPA states that it “finds the petitioners have not evaluated the quality of the data they have provided or indicated how they conducted their searches, evaluated the quality of the sources, or indicated what gaps were located and then explained why the specific tests requested, as compared to others, would provide the data being sought.”  According to EPA, such an evaluation is necessary for EPA to conduct the considerations under TSCA Section 26(h).
     
  • Vertebrate Testing:  TSCA Section 4(h) requires that EPA reduce and replace the use of vertebrate animals in the testing of chemical substances under TSCA Section 4.  EPA states that it must consider “as appropriate and to the extent practicable and scientifically justified, reasonably available existing information, including (i) Toxicity information; (ii) Computational toxicology and bioinformatics; and (iii) High-throughput screening methods and the prediction models of those methods.”

More information on the TSCA Section 21 petition is available in our October 29, 2020, memorandum, “TSCA Section 21 Petition Seeks Section 4 Test Rule for 54 PFAS.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 15, 2021, that it has issued test orders under Section 4 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain additional data on nine of the next 20 chemicals undergoing risk evaluation.  EPA states that after reviewing the available data on these chemicals, it determined additional data are needed and is using its TSCA test order authority to require companies to develop and submit information on environmental hazard and inhalation and dermal exposures for workers.  According to EPA, companies subject to the test orders may provide EPA with existing data or conduct new tests.  Companies may also form consortia to consolidate costs and burden and to avoid unnecessary duplication of testing.  The nine chemicals subject to the Section 4 test orders are:

  • Chlorinated Solvents:
    • 1,1,2-Trichloroethane;
    • 1,1-Dichloroethane;
    • 1,2-Dichloroethane;
    • 1,2-Dichloropropane;
    • Trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene;
    • o-Dichlorobenzene; and
    • p-Dichlorobenzene;
  • Flame Retardants:
    • 4,4ʹ-(1-Methylethylidene)bis[2,6-dibromophenol] (TBBPA); and
    • Phosphoric acid, triphenyl ester (TPP).

EPA states that the orders and any data submitted in response to the orders will be made publicly available on EPA’s website and in applicable dockets on www.regulations.gov.  More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

On October 14, 2020, a coalition of North Carolina non-governmental organizations (NGO) petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 4 test rule for 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) manufactured by The Chemours Company (Chemours) at its chemical production facility in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The petition, filed under TSCA Section 21, seeks issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling Chemours to fund and carry out testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists.  EPA states in its letter acknowledging receipt of the petition that under TSCA Section 21, it has 90 days after the date the petition is filed to grant or deny the petition (January 11, 2021, in this case).  If the Administrator grants the petition, the Administrator shall promptly commence an appropriate proceeding.  If the Administrator denies the petition, the Administrator shall publish the reasons for such a denial in the Federal Register.  The petition was filed by Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, the NC Black Alliance, and Toxic Free NC.  More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 30, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on “Identification of NAMs for Placement on the TSCA Section 4(h)(2)(C) List:  A Proposed NAM Nomination Form.”  The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act) amended Section 4(h)(2)(c) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require EPA to develop a list of alternative test methods or strategies that are “scientifically reliable, relevant, and capable of providing information of equivalent or better scientific reliability and quality to that which would be obtained from vertebrate animal testing.”  The current TSCA Section 4(h)(2)(C) List is available on the EPA website.  EPA’s 2018 Strategic Plan to Promote the Development and Implementation of Alternative Test Methods Within the TSCA Program provides initial criteria for considering scientific reliability and relevance of new approach methodologies (NAM) to be eligible for placement on the List.  EPA states that it “envisions that any party interested in proposing a NAM for placement on the List would use a nomination form.”  The webinar will walk through the proposed nomination form.
 
The webinar is co-organized by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) International Science Consortium, EPA, and the Physicians for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  EPA notes that it does not necessarily endorse the views of the speakers.


 
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