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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On May 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invited environmental justice communities and stakeholders to participate in environmental justice consultations regarding the development of proposed risk management actions under Section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address unreasonable risks presented by trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). EPA will hold two identical consultation webinars, one on June 16, 2021, and the other on July 6, 2021. EPA states that both sessions will provide an overview of the TSCA risk management requirements, the findings from the final risk evaluations, the tools available to manage the unreasonable risks from TCE and PCE, and an opportunity for EPA to obtain input on environmental justice concerns. The consultations are open to the public, and EPA invites national, local, and non-governmental organizations, communities, and other interested stakeholders to participate. Comments are due August 20, 2021.
 
In addition to these environmental justice consultations, EPA states that it is executing a “robust outreach effort” that includes consultations with small businesses, state and local governments, and tribes. There will also be an open public comment period on proposed risk management regulations.
 
While outreach and stakeholder engagement on risk management activities for TCE and PCE will continue to move forward, EPA is actively reviewing final risk evaluations to ensure they use the best available science and protect human health and the environment, in accordance with Executive Orders and other direction provided by the Biden-Harris Administration. EPA states that it will keep stakeholders updated as it makes decisions and determines next steps. More information on EPA’s final risk evaluations for TCE is available in our November 24, 2020, memorandum and on EPA’s final risk evaluation for PCE in our December 17, 2020, memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 30, 2020, that it is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profits 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 carbon tetrachloride.  As reported in our November 4, 2020, memorandum, EPA reviewed 15 conditions of use, “all of which are associated with industrial and commercial work and primarily involve the manufacturing of other chemicals.”  EPA found unreasonable risks to workers and occupational non-users (ONU) for 13 of the 15 conditions of use.  EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment.  According to EPA, there are no consumer uses of this chemical.  The second Panel will focus on a risk management rulemaking for trichloroethylene (TCE).  As reported in our November 24, 2020, memorandum, of the 54 conditions of use that EPA reviewed, EPA found that 52 present an unreasonable risk to workers, ONUs, consumers, and bystanders.  EPA determined that distribution in commerce and consumer use of TCE in pepper spray do not present an unreasonable risk.  EPA also found no unreasonable risks to the environment.  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 company, community, or organization 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 December 14, 2020.

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
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) will hold a webinar on December 10, 2020, to educate stakeholders on the risk management process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the findings in the final risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride.  The webinar will also provide an opportunity for the public to provide input on considerations EPA should take into account for managing these unreasonable risks.  Registration is open.  Stakeholders who would like to provide oral comments must register by December 8, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. (EST).  As reported in our November 4, 2020, memorandum, “Final Risk Evaluation for Carbon Tetrachloride Finds Unreasonable Risks to Workers and Occupational Non-Users,” EPA reviewed 15 conditions of use, “all of which are associated with industrial and commercial work and primarily involve the manufacturing of other chemicals.”  EPA found unreasonable risks to workers and occupational non-users (ONU) for 13 of the 15 conditions of use.  EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment.  According to EPA, there are no consumer uses of this chemical.
 
On December 15, 2020, EPA will hold a webinar on the findings in the final risk evaluation for trichloroethylene (TCE)Registration is open, and stakeholders who would like to provide oral comments must register by December 11, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).  As reported in our November 24, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Evaluates 54 Conditions of Use for TCE, Finding That 52 Present an Unreasonable Risk,” of the 54 conditions of use that EPA reviewed, EPA found that 52 present an unreasonable risk to workers, ONUs, consumers, and bystanders.  EPA determined that distribution in commerce and consumer use of TCE in pepper spray do not present an unreasonable risk. EPA also found no unreasonable risks to the environment.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
In a Federal Register notice published on March 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the March 24-26, 2020, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) meeting to review the draft risk evaluation for trichloroethylene (TCE) is being changed to a virtual public meeting.  85 Fed. Reg. 16096.  Participation will be by telephone and webcast only.  EPA states the meeting times and dates have been adjusted, and that the meeting will be held on March 24-27, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. to approximately 5:00 p.m. (EDT).  EPA asks that stakeholders who want to make oral comments register by noon on March 20, 2020.  Stakeholders must register online to receive the webcast meeting link and audio teleconference information for participation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register on February 26, 2020, announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluation for trichloroethylene (TCE), “a chemical used as a solvent and an intermediate for refrigerant manufacture in industrial and commercial processes, and with limited consumers uses like as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities.”  85 Fed. Reg. 11079.  EPA assessed 54 conditions of use of TCE, and the draft risk evaluation includes the following findings:

  • EPA did not find risk to the environment; and
  • EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risk associated with dermal and inhalation exposure for workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders.

EPA notes that the draft risk evaluation and the initial risk determinations are not a final action.  The draft represents EPA’s preliminary conclusions, findings, and determinations on TCE and will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts.  According to EPA, the draft risk evaluation includes input from other EPA offices, as well as other federal agencies.
 
The TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will meet March 24-26, 2020, to peer review the draft risk evaluation of TCE’s conditions of use.  EPA asks that comments on the draft risk evaluation be submitted by March 18, 2020, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  EPA states that comments received after March 18, 2020, and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to SACC for their consideration.  EPA will hold a preparatory virtual meeting on March 3, 2020, for SACC and the public to comment on the clarity and scope of the draft charge questions for the March 24-26, 2020, meeting.
 
Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due April 27, 2020.  More information on the draft risk evaluation is available in our February 26, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Releases Draft Risk Evaluation for TCE, Announces SACC Peer Review Meeting.”

 

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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on February 21, 2020, the draft risk evaluation for trichloroethylene (TCE), “a chemical used as a solvent and an intermediate for refrigerant manufacture in industrial and commercial processes, and with limited consumers uses like as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities.”  EPA assessed 54 conditions of use of TCE, and the draft risk evaluation includes the following findings:

  • EPA did not find risk to the environment; and
  • EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risk associated with dermal and inhalation exposure for workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders.

EPA notes that the draft risk evaluation and the initial risk determinations are not a final action.  The draft represents EPA’s preliminary conclusions, findings, and determinations on TCE and will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts.  According to EPA, the draft risk evaluation includes input from other EPA offices, as well as other federal agencies.
 
The TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will meet on March 24-26, 2020, to peer review the draft risk evaluation of TCE’s conditions of use.  EPA asks that comments on the draft risk evaluation be submitted by March 18, 2020, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  EPA states that comments received after March 18, 2020, and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to SACC for their consideration.  EPA will hold a preparatory virtual meeting on March 3, 2020, for SACC and the public to comment on the clarity and scope of the draft charge questions for the March 24-26, 2020, meeting.
 
EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluation and beginning a 60-day comment period.  More information on the draft risk evaluation will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.

 

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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On August 29, 2018, the Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce issued a press release announcing that they have renewed their request for a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the amendments made by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The Democrats note this is the fourth request they have made for hearings to be held on EPA’s management of toxic chemicals.  According to the press release, the Democrats “remain concerned that EPA’s implementation of the reformed TSCA program contradicts the new law’s language and intent and undermines public confidence in the program.”  The press release states that the Democrats “are concerned that EPA is ignoring its own scientific evidence and the recommendations of its experienced career staff regarding TSCA implementation at the expense of public health.  They point to a recent report from the New York Times that found EPA officials proposed a rulemaking to review applications for use of asbestos in consumer products over the objections of EPA attorneys and scientists.”  The Democrats “also charge that EPA has abandoned its statutory mandate to review all new and existing chemicals known or foreseeable uses and exposure putting human health and the environment at risk,” possibly resulting in an incomplete evaluation of the health and environmental risk of a number of “extremely toxic chemicals, including asbestos, perchloroethylene (PERC), methylene chloride, and trichloroethylene (TCE).”  The letter was signed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Doris Matsui (D-CA).


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On May 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register stating it was reopening and extending the comment period for two proposed rules:  (1) to prohibit the use of trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasing; to require manufacturers (including importers), processors, and distributors, except for retailers, of TCE for any use to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions throughout the supply chain; and to require limited recordkeeping (issued January 19, 2017); and (2) to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) for consumer and most types of commercial paint and coating removal; to prohibit the use of methylene chloride and NMP in these commercial uses; to require manufacturers (including importers), processors, and distributors, except for retailers, of methylene chloride and NMP for any use to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions throughout the supply chain; and to require recordkeeping (issued January 19, 2017).  82 Fed. Reg. 20310.

This is the second extension of the comment period for the proposed rule to ban TCE use in vapor degreasing and the first extension of the comment period for the proposed rule to ban the uses of NMP and methylene chloride for consumer and most types of commercial paint and coating removal.  Comments on both proposed rules are now due on May 19, 2017.  


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was extending the comment period for the two recently proposed rules issued under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ban certain uses of trichloroethylene (TCE):  proposed rule to ban certain uses of TCE in aerosol degreasing and as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities (issued December 16, 2017); and proposed rule to regulate the use of TCE in vapor degreasing (issued January 19, 2017).  EPA is extending the comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as an aerosol degreaser and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities from the initial deadline of February 14, 2017, to March 16, 2017, and for the proposed ban on TCE as a commercial vapor degreaser from the initial deadline of March 20, 2017, to April 19, 2017.  EPA did not state any information on why it was extending the deadline, but requests for extensions were filed in both dockets.

More information on the proposed rules is available in our memorandum EPA Proposes Regulation of TCE Use in Vapor Degreasing under TSCA Section 6(a) and in our blog item EPA Proposes Prohibiting Use of TCE.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Margaret R. Graham

On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would be issuing a rule proposing to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of trichloroethylene (TCE) for use in vapor degreasing; to prohibit commercial use of TCE in vapor degreasing; to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors, except for retailers of TCE for any use, to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions throughout the supply chain; and to require limited recordkeeping.  EPA is proposing under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to prohibit these uses due to its determination that there are “significant health risks associated with TCE use in vapor degreasing,” and they present “an unreasonable risk to human health.”  The pre-publication of the proposed rule is available on EPA’s website.  Once it has been published in the Federal Register, comments must be submitted within 60 days of publication. More information on the final rule is available in our memorandum on our website under the key phrase TSCA.


 
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