EPA Chemical Data Release to Aid Toxics Law Compliance, Analyses

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By Pat Rizzuto

Information about chemicals made in and imported into the U.S. since 2012 should be publicly available at the end of May, an EPA spokesman told Bloomberg BNA April 20.

The agency plans to post online Chemical Data Reporting rule information that chemical manufacturers submitted in 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said.

Knowing the identity, production volumes and uses of compounds reported under the Chemical Data Reporting rule will serve many purposes, including helping the agency oversee chemical risks and aiding analysts tracking the sector.

Chemical manufacturers were required to provide the EPA annual production volume data for 2012-2015 if they made or imported at least 25,000 pounds of a chemical at any site they owned during any of those years. Processing and use information for chemicals made in or imported into the U.S. in 2015 also had to be reported.

A near-term use of the information will be helping manufacturers respond to a separate notification period that could begin by the end of December.

Inventory Notification

The deadline for manufacturers to let the EPA know what chemicals they’ve made over the last 10 years could begin in December if EPA issues the inventory update rule in June, Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, acting EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, said April 20.

She spoke at the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s science forum about the status of the EPA’s implementation of the 2016 Toxic Substances Control Act amendments.

Those amendments require the EPA to publish by June a final inventory update rule. That rule would lay out a process the EPA must use to divide its inventory of more than 80,000 chemicals made or used in the U.S. into a group of chemicals active in commerce and a group that is dormant.

Chemical manufacturers would have six months after the final update rule is published to notify the EPA about chemicals they’ve made over the last 10 years. Chemical processors would have up to a year. Processors were not required by the TSCA amendments nor EPA’s proposed rule to submit notifications to the EPA.

The EPA’s release of the chemical production volume information will make notifications easier because under the proposed inventory update rule, neither chemical manufacturers nor processors would need to notify the EPA about chemicals reported under the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule in 2016. The proposed rule also said no notifications were needed for the 2012 CDR reports, which covered production volumes in 2011.

Pruitt Urging Staff to Meet Deadlines

That inventory update reporting period would begin in December if the EPA meets TSCA’s requirement to issue its final rule by June, Cleland-Hamnett said.

“We have support for doing that,” Cleland-Hamnett said. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has urged staff to meet the law’s deadlines for the inventory update and other rules and actions mandated by the 2016 TSCA amendments, she said.

The three procedural, or “framework,” rules the law requires the EPA to issue by June are:

  •  the inventory update rule;
  •  a chemical prioritization rule describing how the EPA would sort through chemicals to distinguish ones raising possible concerns from ones that do not; and
  •  a risk evaluation rule to describe how the agency would assess the risks of high priority chemicals.
If the EPA’s risk evaluations determine a chemical poses unreasonable human health or environmental risks, those chemicals will be regulated or otherwise addressed to prevent those risks.  

The EPA must also publish by June the scope of risk evaluations it has underway for asbestos, pigment violet 29, seven solvents and a cluster of three related flame retardants, Cleland-Hamnett said.

By July, she said, the EPA intends to propose a fourth rule to set fees chemical manufacturers and processors would pay to help the agency recoup its costs for overseeing their products. The 2016 TSCA amendments mandated that rule too, but did not set a deadline by which the agency must issue it.

The agency plans to issue that rule by January 2018, she said.

Fall Meetings on Chemical Prioritization

The EPA plans to meet in fall with chemical manufacturers and processors, state officials, environmental health groups and other organizations interested in fleshing out how it will carry out the chemical prioritization procedures that final rule will establish, Cleland-Hamnett said.

The agency will be looking to all parties to identify sources of toxicity, chemical uses and exposures, and other data, she said.

Chemical processors, companies such as cleaning product, glue, paint and wax manufacturers, and “downstream users,”—companies that make cars or that coat materials such as prestained wooden or painted doors sold by retailers—will have an important role in helping the agency understand how chemicals are actually used, Cleland-Hamnett said.

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

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