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By Pat Rizzuto
June 30 — The amended U.S. chemicals statute doesn't envision the Environmental Protection Agency reviewing all chemicals in commerce at once to determine whether they are high or low priorities for risk evaluations, a senior EPA official said June 30.
The EPA will review chemicals in commerce through a rolling process that meets the law's requirements, Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, director of the agency's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, said during a webinar held by the office.
EPA's webinar reviewed changes the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act made to the U.S.'s primary chemicals law, the Toxic Substances Control Act. President Barack Obama signed the Lautenberg Act into law on June 22.
More than 1,300 people tried to listen to the first webinar the agency has held on the newly amended law. Not all people who tried to listen were able to do so, because the agency's telephone lines were overwhelmed by the demand. Cleland-Hamnett said the EPA will try to hold another webinar soon.
The EPA will hold public meetings in late July or early August to discuss its proposed approach to prioritizing chemicals, she said.
Under the TSCA amendments, the EPA can classify as high priorities chemicals that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment due to their hazardous characteristics or the ways or extent to which people or the environment are exposed.
High priority chemicals must have their risks evaluated, which may lead to regulations.
Low priority chemicals, Cleland-Hamnett said, are ones that don't meet the law's standard for high priority.
The TSCA amendments require the agency to issue a final rule describing its process to prioritize chemicals by June 2017.
To meet that goal, the agency intends to propose a rule by mid-December, Cleland-Hamnett said.
A final rule describing the process by which the agency will evaluate chemical risks also is required by June 2017.
The EPA intends to propose that final rule by mid-December as well, meaning it will hold a public meeting on that in late July or early August as well, Cleland-Hamnett said.
Individuals and organizations interested in such meetings and in the agency's implementation of the law should sign up for an e-mail alert the agency offers on its newly established Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act website, she said.
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EPA's webpage about the newly amended TSCA is available at http://1.usa.gov/28OjNNC.
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