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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 6, 2021, that it will provide $9,272,545 in funding to seven institutions for research to estimate better children’s chemical exposures from soil and dust ingestion. According to EPA, the research will focus on improving estimates of children’s ingestion rates of chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and asbestos. EPA states that “[a]ccurate, comprehensive measurements of soil and dust ingestion rates are critical for effective risk assessment, reduction, mitigation, and prevention measures.” The following researchers are receiving funding through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program to help improve children’s health:

  • Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, will conduct a community-based research study to understand and mitigate chemical contaminant exposure among children in neighborhoods with high lead and heavy metal contamination in soils around West Atlanta;
  • Florida International University, Miami, Florida, will estimate soil and dust ingestion rates in children by identifying specific tracers of dust and soil exposure combined with relevant environmental information;
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, will create an integrated and innovative portfolio of tools and approaches to assess dust and soil exposures for children ages six months to six years via activity pattern and tracer studies;
  • New York University, New York, New York, will evaluate specific home environment factors and practices that lead to elevated levels of individual toxic substances ingestible by infants. According to EPA, the researchers hope to evaluate mitigation strategies to reduce infants’ exposure to harmful chemicals in household dust;
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, will obtain data on dust loading on various objects and surfaces in children’s homes, foods, and children’s hands. The researchers will also conduct computer-aided investigations about children’s hand contacts and mouthing patterns;
  • University of California Davis, Davis, California, will develop an innovative method for determining children’s dust ingestion rates using unique tracer compounds identified in household dusts; and
  • University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nevada, will develop a behavior-driven dust and soil ingestion model to predict the dust and soil ingestion rate from children’s microenvironmental features and behavioral factors.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 27, 2021, that it will provide $3.8 million in funding to create two EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Centers for Early Lifestage Vulnerabilities to Environmental Stressors. The centers will focus on early lifestage exposures to chemicals and non-chemical environmental stressors and how these exposures may impact early childhood developmental health. EPA states that scientific research suggests that exposures to pollutants and non-chemical stressors during early lifestages may be crucial determinants of lifetime health. Exposures to cumulative mixtures of chemicals, along with other stressors, such as poverty, limited access to services, and changing environmental conditions, may pose developmental and lifelong health risks. According to EPA, accurate and comprehensive assessments of cumulative impacts are needed to make sound decisions regarding risk reduction, mitigation, and prevention measures. Each center will focus on two individual research projects:

  • Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina:
    • Evaluating the Causal Impacts of Early Life Chemical Exposures on Neurodevelopmental Functioning in Early Childhood -- Researchers will identify the occurrences and types of chemicals found in toddlers’ caregiving environments and evaluate how these cumulative chemical exposures are associated with neurodevelopmental functioning in early childhood; and
    • Investigating Whether the Caregiving Environment Moderates the Impact of Early Life Chemical Exposures on Neurodevelopmental Functioning in Early Childhood -- Researchers will investigate whether home caregiving environments alter the impacts of early life chemical exposures on neurodevelopmental outcomes in early childhood.
  • University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
    • Early Life Exposure and Neurobehavioral Development -- Researchers will leverage an ongoing, longitudinal study of normative brain development, the UNC Baby Connectome Study, to examine the role that early life exposure to phthalates and other chemicals plays in early childhood behavior, memory, language and motor development, and social cognition; and
    • Neural Substrates of Prenatal and Early Life Neurotoxicity Using Non-Invasive Imaging Methods -- Researchers will work to improve the understanding of the relationships between prenatal and early life exposures and structural and functional brain development, particularly in the third trimester of pregnancy, an important time for brain development.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
According to a memorandum posted in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2021-0436, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not extend the comment period stemming from the July 27, 2021, public webinar on the development of a proposed rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to implement a tiered data collection strategy intended to inform EPA’s prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management activities for chemical substances or mixtures. As reported in our July 29, 2021, memorandum, EPA is exploring a data reporting rule that is tiered to specific stages of the TSCA existing chemicals program: identifying a pool of substances as potential candidates for prioritization; selecting candidate chemicals for and completing the prioritization process; and assessing high-priority substances through a robust risk evaluation that may be followed by risk management actions (depending on the outcome of the risk evaluation). According to the memorandum posted in the docket, the August 16, 2021, deadline is for EPA’s use in the current stage of its rulemaking development. While EPA will consider later comments as it continues to develop the proposed rule, EPA states that “comments submitted at this point will be especially useful to EPA and stand a greater chance of influencing the rulemaking.” Because there will be other opportunities to comment on the tiered data reporting rule, including during the public comment period following publication of the proposed rule, EPA “do[es] not believe that an extension of the comment period is necessary.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

On July 27, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) will hold a public meeting to engage with interested stakeholders on the development of a proposed rule for implementing a tiered data collection strategy to help inform EPA’s prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management activities for chemical substances or mixtures under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). According to EPA, it currently primarily collects exposure-related data through the TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) process. EPA is interested in ensuring that data collection strategies provide information to meet better its basic chemical data needs, such as information related to exposure, health, and ecotoxicity. To this end, EPA states that it is exploring a data reporting rule that is tiered to specific stages of the TSCA existing chemicals program: identifying a pool of substances as potential candidates for prioritization; selecting candidate chemicals for and completing the prioritization process; and assessing high-priority substances through a robust risk evaluation, which may be followed by risk management actions (depending on the outcome of the risk evaluation). According to EPA, feedback from the public meeting and comments received will help inform its development of a proposed rule. The meeting will be held virtually via WebEx on July 27, 2021, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). Those who would like to make a comment during the meeting must register by 6:00 p.m. EDT on July 22, 2021. Those who would like to participate in listen-only mode must register by 6:00 p.m. EDT on July 26, 2021. Written comments are due August 15, 2021.


 

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

On May 12, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began environmental justice consultations regarding the development of risk management actions under Section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos and Pigment Violet 29 (PV29). EPA will hold two identical consultation webinars, on June 1, 2021, and June 9, 2021. EPA states that it is offering these repeated sessions to increase opportunities for participation. 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 Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos and PV29, and an opportunity for input on environmental justice concerns. The consultations are open to the public, and EPA is inviting national, local, and non-governmental organizations, communities, and other interested stakeholders to participate. The environmental justice consultation period end August 13, 2021.

EPA states that in addition to these environmental justice consultations, it is implementing a “robust outreach effort” on risk management 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 actions. More information on EPA’s final risk evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos is available in our January 4, 2021, memorandum and on EPA’s final risk evaluation for PV29 in our January 25, 2021, memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 11, 2021, that it is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profits to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide advice and recommendations to a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel for asbestos, part 1:  chrysotile asbestos.  The 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 asbestos, part 1:  chrysotile asbestos.  As reported in our January 4, 2021, memorandum, of the six use categories evaluated (chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, other gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, and other vehicle friction products), EPA states that it found that there is unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, and/or bystanders within each of the six chrysotile asbestos use categories.  EPA found no unreasonable risk 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 evaluation.
 
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 Panel will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA.  The SBAR Panel will select SERs to provide comments on behalf of their company, community, or organization and advise the Panel 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 rule’s 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 February 25, 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 regulation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 9, 2021, that it will host two webinars intended to educate stakeholders on the risk management process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the findings in the final risk evaluations for pigment violet 29 (PV29) and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).  The webinars will also allow the public to provide input on considerations EPA should take into account for managing any unreasonable risks found with these chemicals.  The PV29 webinar will be held on February 23, 2021, and the NMP webinar will be held on February 24, 2021.  To provide oral comments during the PV29 webinar, registration is due by February 18, 2021.  To provide oral comments during the NMP webinar, registration is due by February 19, 2021.
 
EPA states that it will also hold formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  EPA notes that there will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.  According to EPA, while outreach and stakeholder engagement on risk management activities for these chemicals will continue to move forward, EPA “is actively reviewing the final risk evaluations to ensure that they use the best available science and protect of human health and the environment, in accordance with the Executive Orders and other direction provided by the Biden-Harris Administration.”  EPA “will keep stakeholders updated as decisions are made, and next steps are determined.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On February 5, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is reviewing actions issued under the previous Administration and will take any needed steps to ensure that they protect human health and the environment.  The announcement included an update on the following chemical safety actions that have immediate or near-term effective dates or other steps associated with them.  According to the announcement, these actions, along with other chemical safety actions identified by the Biden-Harris Administration, “will undergo review (and, as necessary, revisions) to ensure they are protective of human health and the environment.”

PBT Final Rules

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA was required to take expedited action on certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals and promulgate final risk management actions no later than the statutory deadline of December 2020.  As reported in our December 23, 2020, memorandum, EPA released on December 22, 2020, final rules under TSCA Section 6(h) for five PBT chemicals -- 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2,4,6-TTBP) (86 Fed. Reg. 866); decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) (86 Fed. Reg. 880); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) (86 Fed. Reg. 922); pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP) (86 Fed. Reg. 911); and phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)) (86 Fed. Reg. 894).  The final rules took effect February 5, 2021.  EPA states that it “is aware of concerns about these rules, including implementation issues, that have been raised by a range of stakeholders and may consider additional measures, approaches, or revisions that build upon the steps taken thus far.”

Dust Lead Post-Abatement Clearance Level (DLCL) Final Rule

In January 2021, EPA issued a final rule establishing lower clearance levels for the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors and window sills after lead removal activities (abatement), strengthening lead regulations to protect children’s health.  86 Fed. Reg. 983.  The DLCL final rule goes into effect on March 8, 2021.  EPA states that it will continue to consider the DLCL final rule and the related final rule for Dust-Lead Hazard Standards, which was revised in 2019, as a part of its broader review of actions, in accordance with the Executive Orders and other direction provided by the Biden-Harris Administration.

TSCA Risk Evaluations and Risk Management for First Ten Chemicals

EPA issued final TSCA risk evaluations for the first ten chemicals starting in June 2020 and immediately began the risk management process for each of these chemicals.  According to EPA, while outreach and stakeholder engagement on risk management activities for these chemicals will continue to move forward, EPA “is actively reviewing the final risk evaluations in light of statutory obligations and policy objectives related to use of the best available science and protection of human health and the environment, in accordance with the Executive Orders and other direction provided by the Biden-Harris Administration.”  More information on the final risk evaluations is available in our memoranda available at https://www.lawbc.com/regulatory-developments/tsca.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on February 3, 2021, “to educate stakeholders on the risk management process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the findings in the final risk evaluation for Asbestos Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos.”  EPA states that the webinar will also give the public an opportunity to provide input on considerations the agency should take into account for managing these unreasonable risks.  Stakeholders who wish to provide oral comments must register by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 29, 2021, and those who will only listen may register up to the end of the meeting.  EPA will provide a transcript and recording on EPA’s Asbestos Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos web page following the webinar.  According to EPA’s January 19, 2021, announcement, EPA will begin formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  There will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.  More information on EPA’s final risk evaluation is available in our January 4, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1:  Chrysotile Asbestos.”


 
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