EPA Adds 23 Chemicals, Including BPA, to Key List for Scrutiny, Possible Action

By Pat Rizzuto

Oct. 23 — The Environmental Protection Agency has added 23 chemicals—including bisphenol A (BPA), seven phthalates and two flame retardants—to a key list of chemicals that will have particular uses carefully scrutinized for possible regulation or other controls.

The agency on Oct. 23 updated the list of chemicals in commerce that meet certain criteria, such as being used in children's products or being carcinogenic, persistent in the environment or harmful to development, reproduction or the neurological system.

Manufacturers of some of the newly added chemicals include Dow Chemical Co., DuPont, Eastman Chemical Co., Mexichem S.A.B de C.V., Momentive Performance Materials Holdings LLC and Webb Chemical Service Corp.

The EPA also removed 15 chemicals and groups of chemicals from the Toxic Substances Control Act Work Plan list.

The updated TSCA Work Plan now lists 90 chemicals and chemical groups.

The agency is assessing the risks of particular uses of chemicals on that list. It already has completed four assessments and has initiated risk management actions for trichloroethylene (TCE) and methylene chloride.

Assessments for the newly added chemicals will begin after 2017, the agency said.

Depending on the findings of its risk assessments, the agency could decide to regulate one or more uses of the chemical, work with industry to reduce exposures or conclude that its analysis showed a particular use raised no concerns.

Agency Commended for Update

The American Chemistry Council, which represents major U.S. chemical producers, including manufacturers of chemicals listed in the TSCA Work Plan, issued a statement commending the agency for keeping the list up to date.

The council said it was unclear, however, why EPA added certain chemicals to the list that already have been reviewed—and in some cases had risks addressed—by other parts of the agency or by other agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For example, FDA has primary jurisdiction over bisphenol A, while the CPSC has reviewed various flame retardants.

Richard Denison, lead senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, also commended the EPA for updating its work plan to reflect new data.

“The work plan should be a living document that is revised as new information emerges,” he said.

Scientist Questions Removal of Chemicals

Denison questioned the agency's decision to remove 13 chemicals because manufacturers didn't report making them in 2011, the most recent year for which the agency obtained production volume information. The agency said it concluded that these 13 chemicals were no longer in commerce.

“Reporting under the Chemical Data Reporting rule is subject to a high threshold of 25,000 pounds per site in the reporting year. In addition, numerous exemptions from reporting are provided,” Denison said.

Given the threshold and exemptions, the EPA should explain how it determined the chemicals are no longer being produced in or imported into the U.S. at any level by any company, Denison said.

The EPA's selection of some of the 23 newly added chemicals isn't surprising, as the agency voiced concerns about possible health or environmental harms they could cause in action plans it released between December 2009 and April 2011.

Those chemicals and chemical groups are decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates and the seven phthalates.

The EPA added the remaining chemicals for reasons such as 2011 Toxics Release Inventory data showing elevated releases into the environment; 2012 Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule information showing the chemicals are used in consumer products, including children's products; and the compounds being newly identified as presenting significant health or environmental hazards.

Other Newly Added Chemicals

The 12 chemicals the agency added for such reasons are:

• 1,3-butadiene, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) No. 106-99-0, a commodity petrochemical that the EPA said increasingly is used to make rocket fuels, plastics, commercial latex paints and other compounds. Manufacturers, including Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., Lanxess Corp. and Michelin Corp., reported making or importing more than 4.3 billion pounds in 2011.

• 2,5-furandione, CAS No. 108-31-6, a chemical intermediate that the EPA said is used to make thousands of adhesives, floor polishes, leather treatments, personal care products, water treatment chemicals and other compounds. Manufacturers, including Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Greenchem Industries LLC and Lanxess, reported making or importing more than 572 million pounds in 2011.

• dimethylaminoethanol, CAS No. 108-01-0, which the EPA said is used to make dyestuffs, pharmaceuticals, corrosion inhibitors and other compounds. Manufacturers, including BASF Corp., Huntsman Corp. and Solvchem Inc., reported making or importing more than 120 million pounds in 2011.

• 2-hydroxy-4-(octyloxy)benzophenone, CAS No. 1843-05-6, which the EPA said is used in rubber and plastic products as well as food packaging. Manufacturers, including BASF Corp., Cytec Industries Inc. and SC Johnson & Son Inc., reported making or importing 2 million pounds in 2011.

•  3,3'-dichlorobenzidine, CAS No. 91-94-1, which the EPA said is a probable human carcinogen used to make dyes. No public manufacturing or production volume data were available from the agency's CDR rule website.

• 4,4'-(1-methylethylidene)bis[2,6-dibromophenol], or TBBPA, CAS No. 79-94-7, which the EPA said is used to inhibit combustion in epoxy resin circuit boards and electronic enclosures. Manufacturers, including Albemarle Corp., LG International America Inc. and Sabic Innovative Plastics US LLC, reported making or importing 120 million pounds in 2011.

• barium carbonate, CAS No. 513-77-9, which the EPA said is used in oil well drilling and used to make products including paper, special glass, ceramics, bricks and electrodes. Manufacturers, including Chemical Products Corp., Ferro Corp. and Solvay America Inc., reported making or importing 36 million pounds in 2011.

• dicyclohexyl phthalate, CAS No. 84-61-7, which the EPA said is used to make plastics and as a heat sealer for paper finishes such as price labels and pharmaceutical labels. Wind Point Partners, Lanxess and a company that withheld its name (saying it was confidential business information) reported making or importing between 500,000 and 1 million pounds in 2011.

• isopropylated phenol, phosphate or iPTPP, CAS No. 68937-41-7, which the EPA said is used as a flame retardant. Manufacturers, including Chevron Corp., ICL-Industrial Products America Inc. and Special Material Co., reported making or importing 15 million pounds in 2011.

• molybdenum and molybdenum compounds, a category of chemical used as alloying agents in cast iron, steel and other metals. Because this is a group of chemicals, Bloomberg BNA could not obtain national production data.

• pentachlorothio-phenol, CAS No. 133-49-3, which the EPA said is used to make rubber more pliable. The EPA withheld production volume data for this chemical to protect the proprietary business information of Strucktol Co. of America, the sole manufacturer, which reported making or importing it in 2011.

• triphenyl phosphate or TPP, CAS No. 115-86-6, which the EPA said is widely used to slow fires in polyurethane foam, polyvinyl chloride, printed wiring boards and children's products. Manufacturers, including Albemarle Corp., Chevron and Ferro Corp., reported making or importing 10.7 million pounds in 2011.

 

 To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington at prizzuto@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

The EPA's updated work plan list and related information are available at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/workplans.html.