Last week, EPA released preliminary assessment documents for four structurally similar flame retardant chemical clusters. These documents represent the first step in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan Chemical assessment process for these substances, which were all on the Work Plan list. The TSCA Work Plan is the agency’s program to evaluate potential risks of existing chemicals, first introduced in 2012 and updated in 2014. The notice of the availability of these assessments will be published in the Federal Register on August 18.
EPA released Problem Formulations and Initial Assessments for three flame retardant chemical clusters:
- Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), also known as Brominated Bisphenol A – used in plastics and printed circuit boards;
- Chlorinated phosphate esters – used in furniture foams and textiles; and
- Cyclic aliphatic bromides/hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) – used in expanded polystyrene foams and polystyrene foam products.
The Problem Formulations and Initial Assessments discuss likely exposure and hazard scenarios to workers and consumers, based on current production, use, and exposure information. These assessments aim to identify scenarios where further risk analysis may be necessary. In the case of these three flame retardants, EPA will conduct assessments of risk to human health (workers and consumers) and the environment. EPA will accept public comment on these Problem Formulations and Initial Assessments for 60 days.
In addition, EPA released a Data Needs Assessment for the Brominated Phthalates (TBB and TBPH) cluster of flame retardants used in polyurethane foam products. After reviewing previous assessments of this cluster, EPA identified critical gaps in existing data on toxicity, exposure, and commercial mixtures. The Data Needs Assessment for brominated phthalates is meant to guide the collection of additional data and information and provide stakeholders and the public with the opportunity to submit data or information that may fill the identified gaps. As information is identified or submitted, the agency will “continue to evaluate the adequacy of the database to conduct a risk assessment that can inform decision making.” Public comment on the Data Needs Assessment will be accepted for 120 days.