Five Chemicals Fast-Tracked by EPA for Possible Control

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By Pat Rizzuto

Oct. 11 — Five chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency says pose particular hazards due to how long they persist in the environment, how they bioaccumulate up the food chain and their toxicity are being fast-tracked for action to reduce exposures to them, the agency announced Oct. 11.

Two other compounds on EPA’s PBT list will be examined through a full agency risk evaluation at the company’s request.

“The threats from persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals are well-documented,” Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, said in a statement today announcing the effort.

The chemicals are used as solvents, fuel additives, flame retardants and in the manufacture of other compounds.

The new law directs the EPA to expedite action for a few such chemicals that the agency had identified prior to the Toxic Substances Control Act being amended June 22 by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. No. 114-182), Jones told Bloomberg BNA today.

The announcement allows the EPA to skip the risk evaluation phase for these chemicals, he said. The agency must show that people and/or the environment are exposed to them, but it need not document a specific dermal, oral or other exposure level, Jones said.

Once the EPA makes its exposure finding, the Lautenberg Act allows it to move directly to risk management, Jones said. The law directs the EPA to “reduce exposure to the extent practicable,” he said.

Flame Retardants, Other Chemicals

The chemicals the EPA is fast tracking are:

  •  decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), which is 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.
Although the EPA has not made the official exposure finding required by the Lautenberg Act, Jones said he expects it to be made.

All five chemicals were already on the EPA’s Work Plan list of chemicals it planned to evaluate for risks prior to passage of the Lautenberg Act. The chemicals would not have been on that list if the agency did not have evidence of exposure, he said.

The agency has three years from enactment of the Lautenberg Act to propose risk management rules for these chemicals. That means the agency has about two years and eight months to complete its fast-track review; “the clock is ticking,” Jones said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are pushing for stricter chemical management. Veena Singla, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “While the rest of the world is moving forward to eliminate the dangerous flame retardant chemical DecaBDE, the U.S. has fallen behind. Imports of this chemical in products continue today; we hope that today’s announcement signals that EPA will finally put a stop to this toxic legacy in the making.”

And Andy Ingrejas, director of the Safer Chemicals,Healthy Families coalition, said: “Each of these chemicals persist in the environment and build up in the food chain, including in the human body, making them a priority public health threat. They are treated differently under the law. EPA goes straight to the question of how to eliminate exposure. We fought to have this provision applied to a broader group of chemicals, but the chemical industry resisted. Nevertheless, expedited action even against these five chemicals will be a win for public health.”

The chemical industry trade association, meanwhile, is seeking broader details on how analyses will be conducted by the agency to back its eventual chemical controls. The American Chemistry Council said, “We expect that, in addition to identifying the substances, EPA will make clear how it expects to conduct the additional analyses that will support an eventual decision on the measures that might be necessary to control exposures.”

Industry Pays for Fragrance Full Risk Evaluation

Due to manufacturers requests, the EPA will conduct full risk evaluations for one fragrance chemical, ethanone, which actually has two slightly different chemical identities, Jones said. The manufacturer—International Flavors and Fragrances Inc.—that requested the full risk evaluation is required to pay 50 percent of its cost under the Lautenberg Act.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

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