EPA Receives TSCA Section 21 Petitions Regarding Chemical Mixtures in Cigarettes and Cosmetics
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.