Lautenberg Act: EPA names ten Work Plan chemicals for initial risk evaluations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the ten Work Plan chemicals for review under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which updated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Yesterday, the agency released the list of substances, which will be the first to undergo risk evaluations under the new law. The list is mainly made up of flame retardants and industrial solvents, many of which are used in consumer products, as well as asbestos, the notoriously carcinogenic mineral used in building materials.

The chemicals are:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Bromopropane
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster
  • Methylene Chloride
  • N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP)
  • Pigment Violet 29
  • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Under the Lautenberg Act, EPA must select ten chemicals from the 2014 Work Plan by December 19, 2016. The Work Plan contains 90 chemicals with potential for high hazard and exposure, as well as considerations including persistence and bioaccumulation. The agency notes that in choosing the ten chemicals, it “took into account recommendations from the public, industry, environmental and public health groups, and members of Congress and tried to give weight to chemicals where work on assessing risks were underway.”

Among the listed chemicals, EPA has already completed risk assessments for methylene chloride, NMP, and TCE, and taken early steps towards assessments for 1,4-Dioxane and the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromides. For methylene chloride, NMP, and TCE, the agency plans to proceed with Section 6(a) rulemaking for the limited uses defined for the completed risk assessments; the chemicals’ remaining uses will now be newly evaluated. The ongoing rulemaking for these chemicals were included as “Immediate Actions” in EPA’s First Year Implementation Plan for the Lautenberg Act.

The reformed TSCA requires that EPA evaluate existing chemicals to determine whether they “present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” The list’s publication in the Federal Register will trigger the three-year statutory deadline for completing the risk evaluations. In the next six months, EPA must release a scoping document for each chemical. The remaining 80 Work Plan chemicals will also be reviewed, as the law requires EPA to begin a new evaluation for every completed evaluation, with half of all EPA-initiated evaluations drawing from the Work Plan list until it is exhausted. In addition, EPA must have at least 20 chemical risk evaluations ongoing by the end of 2019.

Environmental groups mostly praised the decision to prioritize asbestos, a fire-resistant material that causes mesothelioma cancer which outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called “the poster child for TSCA reform.” However, Earthjustice criticized EPA’s failure to include lead, citing children’s exposure to the neurotoxin via “ongoing, unnecessary uses of lead in consumer products.”

In a statement, the American Chemistry Council emphasized that a chemical’s inclusion in the list was only the first step in a process based on high quality data and the weight of scientific evidence. The industry group also said “it is imperative that EPA engage stakeholders early and often throughout the risk evaluation process, including through peer review and public comment.”

Flurry of Lautenberg Act rulemaking actions begin.

A series of rulemaking actions have begun to implement the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act), which recently modernized the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Last week, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), received two key proposed rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposed rules, which are not yet publicly available, establish the process for prioritization and risk evaluation under the Lautenberg Act changes to TSCA’s framework. The prioritization process rule will establish procedures and criteria for designating chemicals as either “high priority” or “low priority.” The risk evaluation rule sets out the process for evaluating risks in “high priority” chemicals.

According to EPA’s First Year Implementation Plan, the agency’s goal is to publish these proposed rules in mid-December. Finalization of both rules is required by mid-June 2017, the deadline set by the law. The Plan also set mid-December 2016 as a milestone for publishing proposed rules for inventory reporting and fees. In addition, the Lautenberg Act requires the agency to release the list of ten Work Plan chemicals chosen for initial risk evaluations by the same time.

EPA names five PBT chemicals for expedited action.

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that five chemicals will be subject to expedited action under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which overhauls the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The affected chemicals and their uses, as described by EPA, are:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics and polyurethane foam;
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used in the manufacture of rubber compounds and lubricants and as a solvent;
  • Pentachlorothio-phenol (PCTP), used as an agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
  • Tris (4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate, used as a flame retardant in consumer products and other industrial uses; and
  • 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol, used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive.

Last month, we wrote that as required by the Lautenberg Act, EPA would fast-track the regulation of certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals unless manufacturers nominated them for risk evaluation by September 19. Two of the seven PBT chemicals, which are used in fragrance mixtures, Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,5,5-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl) and Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,8,8-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl), were nominated for risk assessment.

Under the Lautenberg Act, EPA must skip conducting risk assessments for these five chemicals and take expedited action to reduce exposure to the extent practicable. The agency will first determine “where these chemicals are used and how people are exposed to them” before proposing limitations on use. According to agency guidance, EPA may restrict the chemicals in one or more of the following ways:

  • Prohibit or otherwise restrict manufacturing, processing, or distribution in commerce.
  • Prohibit or otherwise restrict manufacturing, processing, or distribution in commerce for particular uses or for uses in excess of a specified concentration.
  • Require minimum warning labels and instructions.
  • Require record keeping or testing.
  • Prohibit or regulate any manner or method of commercial use or disposal.
  • Direct manufacturers and processors to notify distributors and the public and replace or repurchase chemicals substances or mixtures.

EPA must propose expedited actions for these chemicals by June 22, 2019, and final rules must be issued within the following 18 months.

EPA to Extend CDR Submission Deadline by One Month

EPA is amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) regulations by extending the submission deadline for 2016 reports from September 30, 2016 to October 31, 2016. This is a one-time extension for the 2016 submission period only, and will be reported in the Federal Register. The deadline is being extended in response to comments from the regulated community that raised concerns about the ability to make timely reports due to issues with the electronic filing system — EPA’s Central Data Exchange system.

The CDR regulations require manufacturers (including importers) of certain chemical substances included on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory to report current data on the manufacturing, processing, and use of the chemical substances. For the 2016 submission period, a company must report under CDR if, at one or more U.S. sites, it manufactured or imported at least 25,000 pounds of a reportable chemical substance during any year between 2012 and 2015. For some substances, which are subject to certain other TSCA restrictions or requirements, the reporting threshold is 2,500 pounds per year per site.

Expedited action chemicals: EPA posts guidance on requesting risk evaluation.

Seven chemicals will be subject to the expedited action provision of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) unless manufacturers nominate them for risk evaluation by September 19. However, the scope of the risk evaluation will not be limited even if the manufacturer requests evaluation of only certain uses.

EPA recently posted online guidance interpreting the expedited action provision, which was added by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. EPA must propose rules by June 22, 2019 to restrict or regulate certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals identified in the 2014 update to the TSCA Work Plan. The chemicals subject to expedited action are:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE) (CASRN 1163-19-5)
  • Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,5,5-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl)- (CASRN 54464-59-4)
  • Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,8,8-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl)- (CASRN 54464-57-2)
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (CASRN 87-68-3)
  • Pentachlorothio-phenol (CASRN 133-49-3)
  • Phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1) (iPTPP) (CASRN 68937-41-7)
  • 2,4,6-Tris(-tert-butyl)phenol (CASRN 732-26-3)

Under this provision, EPA is not required to conduct a risk assessment and may impose one or more of a variety of restrictions so that the chemical no longer presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The agency may levy prohibitions or restrictions on manufacturing, processing, or distribution for a certain use or in excess of a certain concentration. EPA is also authorized to set requirements for record-keeping, testing, or marking substances with warnings. These expedited actions must “address the risks of injury to health or the environment …presented by the chemical substance” and “reduce exposure to the substance to the extent practicable.”

The new guidance also provides instructions on how manufacturers should submit their requests for a risk evaluation, including new requirements for making claims for Confidential Business Information (CBI).

Manufacturers requesting risk revaluations will be required to pay a fee, which will be set by a rule which EPA expects to finalize by June 22, 2017. The guidance notes that risk evaluation requests may not be withdrawn and will be considered “a firm commitment …to pay for the risk evaluation.”

In addition to requesting a risk evaluation, a chemical may also be removed from expedited action eligibility if EPA designates it as a high-priority substance for risk evaluation. In either case, any subsequent regulation of the chemical must “reduce exposure to the substance to the extent practicable.”

Science advisors urge EPA to complete 1-BP risk assessment.

The Chemical Safety Advisory Committee is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete and publish its risk assessment of 1-bromopropane without delay, due to “the high risks of adverse effects” in occupational and consumer use scenarios that have already been evaluated. In meeting minutes [PDF] submitted to EPA last week, some Committee members commented that these risks might have been under-estimated. The chemical, also known as 1-BP, is used in spray adhesives, dry cleaning, and degreasing, and was among the chemicals identified in the 2012 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan.

The Committee, an independent panel of scientific advisors comprised of experts in toxicology, environmental risk assessment, exposure assessment and related fields, met in May to review the scientific and technical merit of EPA’s draft risk assessment for 1-BP, which was released in March 2016.

Overall, the Committee praised the draft risk assessment, concluding that “the conceptual model appropriately considers worker exposures and consumer uses, with the majority of exposure occurring via inhalation.” The Committee stressed the importance of including consumer uses with acute exposures, and several members called for better consideration of exposure from co-residence and community-level exposures near dry-cleaning facilities. The Committee provided recommendations “intended to improve the clarity and transparency of the scientific analyses,” including the adoption of systematic review processes to clarify how studies were selected and evaluated. Other recommendations include ways to refine occupational and consumer exposure assessments.

Under the new requirements of the Lautenberg Act, EPA must identify 10 Work Plan chemicals for risk evaluations to be initiated by December 2016. EPA will revamp the prioritization process for risk evaluations in 2017 and 2018, using new criteria to be established, through rule-making, by mid-June 2017.

EPA proposes updates to SNUR regulations on workplace protection and hazard communication.

On July 28, EPA published a proposed rule updating the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) regulations, which implement section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In announcing the proposal, EPA emphasized the need to harmonize regulations based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for respiratory protection and hazard communication, which have both been updated since the SNUR regulations were last revised in 1989.

The proposed rule also contains several other changes meant to address “issues identified through EPA’s experience issuing and administering SNURs,” including changes to the bona fide intent to manufacture procedure. Additional, minor changes include correcting typographical errors, updating “material safety data sheet” or “MSDS” to “safety data sheet” or “SDS,” and revising language to “more accurately use the terms manufacture, manufacturer, and manufacturing.”

Notably, many of the proposed changes to the SNUR regulations will affect previously-issued SNURs.

EPA notes that, due to regulatory updates from both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and OSHA, the current regulatory language for protection in the workplace, concerning respiratory protection, is inconsistent with NIOSH and OSHA requirements. Thus, EPA proposes to replace outdated references to old OSHA standards with the current NIOSH regulations on the certification and testing of respirators, as well as adding specific types of NIOSH-certified respirators to the list of approved respirators. According to the proposed rule, companies subject to previously-issued SNURs containing respirator requirements can either follow the updated requirements or continue using the older respirators, if they are still available, without triggering a Significant New Use Notification (SNUN) requirement.

EPA also proposes to modify a subsection on airborne forms of chemicals by adding “particulate or aerosol,” “gas/vapor,” and combinations thereof.

The proposed rule further revises the workplace protection section by inserting the requirement that a hierarchy of controls – such as enclosure of operations, ventilation, and workplace policies and procedures – must be “considered and implemented to prevent exposure, where feasible” before using personal protective equipment (PPE) for worker protection. This change is reportedly in response to previous comments criticizing “EPA’s approach of exclusively identifying the absence of adequate personal protective equipment as a significant new use” as out of step with best practices in industrial hygiene. EPA notes that the new language has been incorporated in all new chemical SNURs issued since June 26, 2013 and is consistent with OSHA requirements.

The agency’s proposed updates on hazard communication are based on OSHA’s updates to its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which was itself modified, in 2012, to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). EPA also proposes adding a new requirement which could be used in new SNURs for a written hazard communication program in each workplace in accordance with the OSHA HCS. Another proposed addition provides specific statements and warnings that could be required under a SNUR and “would be based on EPA’s risk assessment of the chemical substance and would be consistent with the OSHA HCS and GHS recommendations.”

In addition to the changes to the workplace protection and hazard communication revisions, EPA proposes various other modifications, including:

  • Bona fide procedure: Currently, when EPA issues a SNUR in which the chemical identity is withheld as confidential business information (CBI), manufacturers and processors may submit information to EPA to “determine whether their substance is subject to the SNUR.” EPA now proposes to amend the process to apply to other kinds of CBI, such as production volume limits, so EPA may inform bona fide submitters whether and how the SNUR applies to them, including any confidential significant new use designations.
  • Notice submission requirements: EPA proposes that notification submissions such as premanufacture notifications or low volume exemptions, among others, must include any SDS that has already been developed for the relevant chemical.

EPA has specifically requested comments on the following issues:

  • the use of “next generation” respirators;
  • the incorporation of the hierarchy of controls approach to worker protection in the SNUR requirements; and
  • “any suggested methods for minimizing respondent burden, including revisions to the automated collection techniques being used for submissions to EPA under TSCA, …the Agency’s Central Data Exchange (CDX) portal.”

The deadline for comments on the proposed rule is September 26, 2016.

First new chemical determinations released by EPA under amended TSCA.

Last Friday, the U.S. EPA issued its first regulatory determinations for new chemical substances under the newly amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA published premanufacture notices (PMNs) for four new chemicals, concluding that all four were “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” to human health or the environment. The decision means that manufacturers and importers may make or import the chemicals, which will be used as lubricants, plastics additives, and in combination with other substances to make polymers.

For all four new chemicals, the agency found low potential for both human health and environmental hazards. Two of the chemicals were “very persistent,” but the agency found that neither presented an unreasonable risk due to “low potential for bioaccumulation,” as well as low health and environmental hazards.

These actions are the agency’s first under “TSCA 2.0,” after the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act went into effect last month. As reported by Greenwire, the American Chemistry Council lauded the new chemical determinations as “an example of the new law already working.” The environmental advocacy nonprofit EDF praised the EPA’s openness while criticizing the agency on other issues, including the withholding of confidential business information (CBI), use of estimated data, providing only summaries of the determination documents, and “cursory consideration of exposure and exposed subpopulations.”

Lautenberg Act: EPA releases Implementation Plan and other resources.

Following President Obama’s signing, last week, of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA has begun to roll out a variety of resources to help stakeholders understand this update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Today, EPA posted its Implementation Plan for the Lautenberg Act, a “roadmap of major activities EPA will focus on during the initial year implementation.” The requirements and goals outlined in the Plan are based on deadlines set in the statute. The agency noted that the Plan is a “living document” that will be updated over time.

Notably, the Plan states that the Lautenberg Act’s passage “effectively resets the 90-day review period” for submitted Premanufacture Notices (PMNs). As an “Immediate Action” under the Plan, EPA’s goal is to meet the “applicable” deadlines for reviewing and making affirmative determinations on all PMNs and Significant New Use Notifications (SNUNs). The agency says it “will make every effort to complete its review and make a determination within the remaining time under the original deadline.”

Another “Immediate Action” under the Plan is the routine review and making of determinations on new confidentiality claims for the identities of chemicals offered for commercial distribution. These Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims must receive a determination within 90 days and upheld claims will result in the chemical receiving a unique identifier and associated information. EPA also set a goal of creating a plan to link such associated information in 30 days, by mid-July. For CBI claims not related to chemical identity, EPA is required to review and make determinations for at least 25% of new claims, with a goal of developing an approach for routine review by mid-July. EPA plans to provide additional information on required statements and certifications for asserted CBI claims by mid-July as well.

The new law allows EPA to publish proposed and final rules, under Section 6, for chemicals with risk assessments completed prior to the enactment of the Lautenberg Act. These rules must be consistent with the scope of the risk assessments, “even if they do not cover all conditions of use.” EPA has set “Immediate Action” goals to address the identified risks associated with trichloroethylene (TCE), methylene chloride (MC), and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), with various proposed and final rules anticipated to be released from October through December 2017.

Other mandatory actions to be completed within the first year of implementation include:

  • Scope of Initial Risk Evaluations: The scope of the first ten Work Plan chemicals’ risk evaluations will be published in mid-June 2017.
  • Annual Plan for Risk Evaluations: The first annual plan, providing updates on evaluations to be started or completed each calendar year, among other things, will be due January 2017.
  • Additions to Mercury Export Ban: The initial list of mercury compounds prohibited from export is slated for publication mid-September 2016.
  • Mercury Inventory: EPA must publish an inventory of mercury supply, use, and trade in the U.S. by April 1, 2017, and update it every three years thereafter.
  • Small Business Definitions: By mid-December 2016, EPA must review the standards for identifying small manufacturers and processors and determine whether revisions are warranted.
  • Report to Congress: EPA’s first report to Congress must be submitted by mid-December 2016. The report must address the agency’s capacity and resources needed to conduct risk evaluations and issue rules addressing unreasonable risks, as well as EPA’s capacity to conduct industry-requested risk evaluations, the likely demand for such requests, and anticipated schedule for meeting that demand.

Beyond the first year of implementation, the Plan outlines “Framework Actions” that will guide the program on a longer-term basis. These are all on the same timeframe and include:

  • Initial Risk Evaluations: The list of ten Work Plan chemicals will be published in December 2016, with scope of assessments published in June 2017, as mentioned above.
  • Prioritization Process Rule: The Proposed Rule establishing EPA’s process and criteria for prioritizing chemicals for risk evaluations is expected by mid-December 2016; the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Risk Evaluation Process Rule: The Proposed Rule establishing EPA’s process for evaluating the risk of high priority chemicals is expected in mid-December 2016; the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Fees Rule: EPA plans to meet and consult with industry in developing the rules for collecting newly-authorized fees, including those for industry-requested risk evaluations, which must be fully funded by fees. The Proposed Rule is expected mid-December 2016 and the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Inventory Rule: This rule will collect information via required industry reporting on chemicals manufactured or processed in the last ten years to determine which chemicals on the TSCA Inventory are “active” or “inactive.” Publication of the Proposed Rule is slated for mid-December 2016 and the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals: This committee will be established to provide independent advice and scientific and technical expertise on the law’s implementation. EPA aims to establish the Committee by mid-December 2016, six months before the statutory deadline. The agency plans to publish the applicable Federal Register notice in early September 2016, with public comment accepted through early November 2016.

“Later Mandatory Actions” designated in the Plan include the publication of an Alternative Testing Methods Strategy by June 2018 and negotiated rulemaking on byproducts reporting for Chemical Data Reporting (CDR), with a Proposed Rule (by negotiating process) anticipated in June 2019.

In addition, EPA will hold an informational overview of the Lautenberg Act by webinar tomorrow, June 30, at 2:00 p.m. EST. The webinar will be accessible here: http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/overviewreform/. Audio will be available by phone by dialing 866-299-3188 and entering the code 2025648098#.

Other resources from EPA’s website about the Lautenberg Act include a summary of key provisions, a Frequently Asked Questions document, and the full text of the Act itself.

President Obama to sign Lautenberg Act tomorrow.

The White House has announced that on Wednesday, June 22, President Obama will sign into law the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” the long-awaited update to the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Senate passed the Lautenberg Act by voice vote on June 6, two weeks after the House approved the negotiated legislation. Both houses of Congress approved different versions of the bill in 2015, but were unable to reach a deal to reconcile the legislation until last month.

The bipartisan bill gives EPA new authority to regulate chemicals based on impacts to health and the environment, not cost, and order testing via order rather than rulemaking. Existing chemicals in commerce will be screened and prioritized for risk assessment, and industry will be allowed to apply for fee-funded expedited assessments. Fees for new and existing chemicals will be collected into a “TSCA Implementation Fund” to defray about 25% (initially $25 million annually) of the program cost. For new chemicals, EPA will be required to make an affirmative safety finding that the substance is not likely to present an unreasonable risk. The Lautenberg Act also provides for an “Inventory reset” under Section 8 of TSCA, requiring industry to report to EPA which Inventory chemicals they have manufactured or imported in the previous ten years. Most claims of Confidential Business Information (CBI), which allow companies to avoid disclosing certain information to EPA, will now have to be substantiated when made and will expire after ten years unless re-substantiated. EPA will be required to review and approve or deny past CBI claims for chemical identities on the Inventory.

The preemption of state and local laws was a major sticking point throughout TSCA reform negotiations, resulting in a complicated system of limited preemption. Generally, restrictions by states will not be preempted until EPA takes action on a particular substance, while reporting, monitoring, and disclosure requirements will not be affected. State actions in effect by April 22, 2016, or actions taken under a law in effect on August 31, 2003, will not be preempted. The Act also provides for a process under which states can seek waivers from preemption.

After the Lautenberg Act is signed into law, EPA will soon face a variety of tough implementation challenges. Within the first six months, EPA must designate ten chemicals from the Work Plan for risk assessment. Within the first year, EPA must develop guidance for industry-initiated risk evaluations and rules for Inventory reset reporting, prioritization of chemicals, and risk evaluation process.

Whether EPA will receive adequate funding from Congress to achieve all these goals remains to be seen; the Lautenberg Act does not permit EPA to assess fees unless Congress has appropriated at least the amount appropriated for the “Chemical Risk Review and Reduction” program project in FY 2014. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out its appropriations bill for FY 2017, which included language to meet that requirement.