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USEPA to Develop Process to Evaluate Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is moving swiftly to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017.

When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals. The USEPA says the old law failed to provide the federal agency with the tools necessary to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced. 

USEPA is proposing three rules to help administer the new process:

  1. Inventory: There are currently over 85,000 chemicals on USEPA’s inventory; many of these are no longer actively produced. The rule will require manufacturers, including importers, to notify USEPA and the public on the number of chemicals still being produced.
  2. Prioritization: The USEPA will establish prioritization of chemicals for evaluation.  USEPA will use a risk-based screening process and criteria to identify whether a particular chemical is either high or low priority.  A chemical designated as high-priority must undergo evaluation. Chemicals designated as low-priority are not required to undergo evaluation.
  3. Risk Evaluation: USEPA will establish a process to evaluate the risk of existing chemicals.  The agency will identify steps for the risk evaluation process, including publishing the scope of the assessment. Chemical hazards and exposures will be assessed along with characterizing and determining risks.  The rule will also outline how the agency intends to seek public comment on chemical evaluations.

The three rules incorporate comments received from a series of public meetings held in August 2016.  If the USEPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations.  Under TSCA the agency must have at least 20 ongoing risk evaluations by the end of 2019.

To review and comment on the three proposed rules on the Federal Register's site, click Inventory, Prioritization, or Risk Evaluation. Comments on the proposed rules must be received 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.





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