Flame Retardant Makers Won’t Have to Do Toxicity Tests: EPA

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By Pat Rizzuto

Manufacturers of three flame retardants used in furniture foam, textiles, paints and other products won’t have to conduct toxicity or exposure tests requested through an environmental coalition’s petition, the EPA has decided.

The petition did not provide sufficient evidence for the Environmental Protection Agency to conclude that the data it already has and that are available through computer modeling and other analytic approaches are inadequate to evaluate the health or environmental effects of the flame retardants known as the chlorinated phosphate ester (CPE) cluster, the EPA said. Its response will be published in the Federal Register on a undecided date and was published online April 6.

Six environmental health groups lead by Earthjustice filed their petition Jan. 6 asking the EPA to require the manufacturers of the three flame retardants to conduct toxicity and exposure tests because the chemicals may pose an unreasonable risk to people and the environment.

Companies, Production Volumes

Companies that made one or more of the three flame retardants in 2011—the most recent year for which the EPA has published production data—included Aceto Corp., Albemarle Corp., Henkel Corp., ICL-IP America Inc., Lanxess Corp. and Solvay America Inc.

One of the three flame retardants (Chemical Abstract Service No. 13674-84-5) was produced in a volume of 55 million pounds in 2011, while another (CAS No. 13674-87-8) was produced in a volume ranging from 10 million to 50 million that year. Those quantities make the chemicals high production volume chemicals. The EPA withheld the production volume of the third chemical (CAS No. 115-96-8) because only one company reported, so disclosure of its production would reveal proprietary information.

Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other coalition participants justified their petition for toxicity and exposure data by pointing to conclusions already reached by California and the European Union about the risks the flame retardants posed; scientific studies about the three flame retardants; and information the EPA gathered in an initial assessment of the cluster the agency released in August 2015.

The EPA described each type of data sought by the coalition and, in many cases, said data it has received since 2015 would help it assess the chemicals risks. It also listed computer models that it could run to estimate exposure and sources of exposure data, such as existing effluent data from municipal treatment plants, that it could obtain.

The agency left open the possibility that it might need some additional data, such as information about whether the flame retardants mimic, block or alter hormone function. The agency said it would decide whether such data were needed when it has conducted additional analyses.

The three flame retardants that make up the cluster are:

  •  tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, or TCEP, CAS No. 115-96-8;
  •  2-propanol, 1-chloro-, phosphate, or TCPP, CAS No. 13674-84-5; and
  •  2-propanol, 1,3-dichloro-, phosphate, or TDCPP, CAS No. 13674-87-8.

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

For More Information

A pre-publication version of the EPA's decision is available at http://src.bna.com/nOj.

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