Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA Issues Annual Chemical Review Plan Under the 2016 Amendments to TSCA

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Mar 13, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its second Annual Plan for Chemical Risk Evaluations. These evaluation workplans are required by the 2016 Lautenberg Act amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as an expansion of EPA’s long-criticized efforts to evaluate existing chemicals for potential health and safety hazards. This new Annual Plan updates EPA’s efforts since 2016, and continues to formalize procedures.

Which Chemicals are Presently Under Evaluation?

EPA issued a notice in November 2016 identifying the first 10 chemicals for review. (I wrote about this here). These chemicals are:

  • 1,4-Dioxane – widely used, including as a solvent, and as a constituent in cosmetics, baby care products, and spermicides (possible human carcinogen).

  • 1-Bromopropane – a solvent used in degreasing, dry cleaning, spray adhesives, and aerosol solvents (possible human carcinogen).

  • Asbestos – a ubiquitous insulator, uses of which have been reduced drastically since the 1970s, but still present in many installations and some new products (known human carcinogen).

  • Carbon Tetrachloride – another widely used solvent (probable human carcinogen).

  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster flame retardant in extruded polystyrene foam, textiles, and electrical and electronic appliances (acute aquatic toxicant).

  • Methylene Chloride – widely used in paint stripping and removal, metal cleaning and degreasing, adhesives and pharmaceutical manufacturing, polyurethane foam production, and solvents (probable human carcinogen).

  • N-methylpyrrolidone – used as solvent and in paint stripper, and in pesticides (reproductive toxicant).

  • Pigment Violet 29 used in consumer products (aquatic toxicant).

  • Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene) – widely used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing (probable human carcinogen).

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) – solvent and degreaser (probable human carcinogen).

What Did EPA Do in 2017?

Publication of the first chemical list triggered a statutory deadline to complete risk evaluations for these chemicals within three years – by December 2019. During 2017 EPA began a series of formal steps to accomplish these reviews. Milestones included the following:

  • Report to Congress identifying agency capacity and resource needs (issued January 2017). EPA estimated it would require $12.3 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, growing to a steady-state $35.8 million beginning in FY 2021.

  • Rule for chemical risk evaluations (issued June 2017). This rule establishes the process and criteria that EPA will use to identify chemical substances as either High-Priority Substances for risk evaluation, or Low-Priority Substances that do not warrant further risk evaluations.

What is EPA Planning to Do in 2018?

EPA’s new Annual Report indicates that the agency will continue the evaluation activities it began in 2017. In addition, however, the report indicates that EPA is introducing a new step in order to refine the scoping documents prepared under tight time constraints – 10 chemical-specific documents in 6 months. EPA will interpolate a “problem formulation” for each chemical review. As stated in the Annual Report “EPA anticipates publishing and taking comments for 45-days on problem formulation documents in early calendar year 2018. Comments on the problem formulation documents will inform the draft risk evaluations.” (Readers should note that people concerned with EPA’s changing priorities under the Trump Administration are concerned that these reviews will provide opportunities not to refine procedures but to slow down action; we will see).

Self-Evaluation Checklist

Does the organization manufacture, import and/or process any of the ten chemicals EPA has listed for review and possible “mitigation”?

Does the organization use any of the ten chemicals listed for review and possible “mitigation”?

If so, has the organization reviewed its activities for possible substitutes:

- Voluntarily, while EPA’s review is underway
- Involuntarily, if EPA restricts or bans any of these chemicals
Does the organization participate in informational and rulemaking activities relating to chemical evaluation?

Where Can I Go For More Information?

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:

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About the Author

Jon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 13 existing products, including Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National Guide and The Complete Guide to Environmental Law.

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

photo credit: 2bmolar Stirring White via photopin (license)

Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom, tsca