Jim Jones, the EPA Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, writes in Chemical Watch that his highest priority in 2015 is “to continue building on the progress” of the last few years in making a “credible” program to manage existing chemicals, “despite the widely acknowledged shortcomings of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).” In his outlook for 2015, Assistant Administrator Jones highlighted progress on the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments as well as various regulatory actions.
Assistant Administrator Jones noted that in 2014, EPA completed final assessments on four chemical substances. Of those, the assessments for trichloroethylene (TCE) and methylene chloride (DCM) identified health risks to consumers and workers working with the chemicals. In 2015, the agency intends to negotiate for voluntary risk reduction measures with TCE and DCM manufacturers, but would turn to TSCA § 6 to mandate risk management – a regulatory tool EPA has not used in 28 years. Under the TSCA Work Plan, assessments scheduled for 2015 will address the following:
- N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in paint stripper products;
- three clusters of related chemicals, used as flame retardants;
- several uses of 1-Bromopropane (1-BP); including occupational uses of 1-BP in dry-cleaning and foam gluing operations, consumer uses in aerosol solvent cleaners and spray adhesives;
- 1,4-Dioxane; and
- long- and medium-chained chlorinated paraffins used as metal working and compounding agents and its effects on ecological receptors.
EPA has a variety of regulatory actions planned for 2015. The agency plans to finalize a rule regulating formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, thus making national the emissions standard already in place in California. In addition, EPA will make a determination on “whether renovations in commercial and public buildings create a hazard from lead-based paint.” Assistant Administrator Jones also announced that the agency will, in late 2015 or early 2016, propose the modification of existing use authorizations for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in several contexts. Finally, Assistant Administrator jones noted that 2015 would mark a “turning point” for the agency’s green chemistry programs as incentives and obstacles to adoption of greener chemistries are identified.
Other items on EPA’s agenda for 2015 include:
- The new Design for the Environment (DfE) logo will be revealed in the next few months, and the first products displaying the redesigned logo should start appearing by the second half of 2015.
- ChemView, the public online database on chemicals regulated under TSCA, was updated in 2014 and will continue to undergo information additions and improvements in usefulness and robustness in 2015.
- EPA will launch a pilot program to further refine the Draft Guidelines for Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement, which were released in late 2013. The pilot program will convene groups to develop and test an approach to implementing the Draft Guidelines in certain sectors, including building paints/coatings/removers, building flooring, and furniture.