EPA to Issue List of Chemicals That Warrant Review for Possible Regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency by late fall will release a list of chemicals it has determined warrant further scrutiny due to available hazard and exposure information, a conclusion that could lead to the eventual regulation of some compounds, a senior EPA official said Sept. 7.

Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, director of EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, told an agency-sponsored webinar that after EPA publishes the list, companies and other interested parties will be able to submit additional information they have to improve the agency's assessment of a chemical's risks.

That information could affect the agency's decision on whether the compound needs regulatory action or other types of risk management controls.

Selecting priority chemicals for review is part of the agency's effort to enhance its management of chemicals in the U.S. market, she said, referring to an initiative EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced in September 2009 (33 CRR 970, 10/5/09).

EPA already has proposed both voluntary and regulatory controls for 10 chemicals or groups of chemicals. Possible regulations range from data-gathering rules to a ban or restriction on a chemical's use.

Cleland-Hamnett said the agency does not have a numerical target for the number of chemicals that should be on its priority list. Rather, EPA wants a manageable number of chemicals that warrant a more in-depth review, she said. According to Cleland-Hamnett, the agency estimates “a couple of hundred chemicals” could be on the list.

The EPA official discussed the agency's plans to develop a prioritization list during a webinar that included participants from state agencies, chemical manufacturers and other companies, and environmental advocates.

EPA invited comment on its prioritization strategy through Sept. 14.

Additional Characteristics, Data Sources Urged

Among the issues Cleland-Hamnett asked the participants to discuss were the sufficiency of a list of characteristics—such as potential carcinogenicity and potential to harm development—that the agency proposed to consider as it selects chemicals for the list and a list of sources of information it proposed to use. The characteristics and data sources were included in a discussion guide the agency released Aug. 18. (See related story in this issue.)

Several participants urged EPA to expand the characteristics of concern to include chemicals that may harm the neurological system and compounds that may mimic, block, or alter hormonal function, commonly called endocrine disruptors.

Representatives of several trade associations said EPA should consider eliminating chemicals to which people or the environment are not exposed.

“That way you aren't wasting resources chasing something that's not causing harm,” said Jim Cooper, a vice president with the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.

Several representatives of chemical industry trade associations urged EPA to use as data sources information being collected on chemicals in other countries and regions.

For example, the agency should take advantage of the valuable information on exposure being developed by companies seeking to comply with the European Union's registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals (REACH) regulation, an official with the American Petroleum Institute said.

A representative from the Department of Homeland Security said its Chemical and Biological Division, part of its Security Science and Technology Directorate, has classified a number of chemicals based on their toxicity. While the information is classified, the department can share it with EPA, the homeland security official said.

Staff from Washington state and California urged EPA to use environmental monitoring, risk assessment, and other information collected by states.

Chemical Industry Approach

Christina Franz, a director with the American Chemistry Council, said the trade association released a strategy Sept. 6 it says EPA could use to select chemicals for further review.

Under that strategy, chemicals that lack hazard information but appear to have production volumes or other data that suggest that many people could be exposed to them, or that they may be released into the environment at levels of concern, would be ranked as posing concern, Franz told reporters during a Sept. 6 briefing on the chemistry council's approach.

That would give chemical manufacturers an incentive to provide EPA with hazard data, Franz said.

By Pat Rizzuto

Information about EPA's prioritization strategy, including details on how to submit comments, is available at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/chemprioritizations.html .

Information about the American Chemistry Council's proposed approach to select chemicals for further review is available at http://www.americanchemistry.com/TSCA under “Resources.”