EPA Adds 16 Carcinogens to Toxics Release Inventory; First Reports Due in 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency is adding 16 chemicals classified as carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program to the list of chemicals that must be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory, according to a final rule published in the Federal Register Nov. 26 (75 Fed. Reg. 72,727).

The 16 chemicals added to the TRI list are identical to those listed in the proposed rule published in April: 1-amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone; 2,2-bis(bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol; furan; glycidol; isoprene; methyleugenol; 1,6-dinitropyrene; 1,8-dinitropyrene; 6-nitrochrysene; 4-nitropyrene; o-nitroanisole; nitromethane; phenolphthalein; tetrafluoroethylene, tetranitromethane; and vinyl fluoride (34 CRR 349, 4/12/10).

The final rule takes effect Nov. 30 and will apply to the 2011 reporting year. The first reports will be due July 1, 2012, EPA said.

The addition of the 16 chemicals marks the first time the inventory has been expanded since 1999.

The chemicals were classified as carcinogens in the NTP's 11th Report on Carcinogens, issued Jan. 31, 2005.

Adding the chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory makes them subject to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 and the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. A release of a listed chemical above a stated threshold requires a report to the inventory.

The White House Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the rule on Nov. 12 34 CRR 1121, 11/22/10).

EPA estimates the rule will affect 109 entities at a total cost of approximately $859,000 in the first year as facilities have to become familiar with the new reporting requirement. In subsequent years, EPA said the cost for collecting the information on Form R should fall to about $289,000 annually.

Comment Questions Scientific Basis

According to EPA, nine comments were submitted on he proposed rule. Seven comments expressed support for the rule and two questioned the scientific basis for adding the chemicals to the inventory.

A comment from manufacturer Chemical Products Corp. cited flaws in a National Toxicology Program technical report about an unrelated chemical as evidence that the process by which NTP classifies chemicals as carcinogenic is flawed and should not be used as the basis for the EPA listings. Instead, they asked that the EPA rely on listings from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

“They, we believe, are much more careful concerning sound science” than the National Toxicology Program, Jerry Cook, the company's technical director, told BNA Nov. 24. Only two of the 16 chemicals that will be added to the inventory are listed by the IARC as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” the second highest classification, he said. At least 11 of the other chemicals are listed by the IARC as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Cook said the rule will have no direct effect on Chemical Products Corp., but he said he thinks relying on the National Toxicology Program will lead to unnecessary reporting requirements.

EPA Says Concerns Unfounded

EPA in the preamble to the final rule said concerns expressed over the science used to select the chemicals were unfounded.

“EPA does not believe that issues raised about one NTP technical report means that the scientific validity of all NTP technical reports should be in question,” EPA said. “The Agency finds no specific basis to question any of the NTP documents used to support the listing of the 16 chemicals included in this rule based on these comments.”

The preamble also said EPA did not list the chemicals based solely on the NTP report. The TRI already includes other chemicals that have the IARC designation of “possibly carcinogenic,” it said, and even if a chemical had the higher classification of “probably carcinogenic,” EPA would independently review the available data before making a listing decision.

Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the objections raised based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer designations constituted “grasping at straws.”

“The processes under which chemicals get listed under these two programs is a lengthy process, and they don't follow in lock step. So it's disingenuous to say that if it's not listed on both lists, there's doubt” about the toxicity of the chemical, he said.

He said the move showed that the EPA was effectively using the Toxics Release Inventory.

“The TRI listing is one of the few ways we have of getting better information about how much of those chemicals are released into the environment and exposing people and the environment,” Denison said. “I think this is just another indication that EPA's willingness to use its current authorities to actually drive more information about toxic chemicals into the public domain.”

By Leora Falk