Environmental and Occupational Health / Government Regulations

EPA releases draft of chemical risk assessment

EPAThe EPA has released for public comment draft risk assessments, for particular uses, on five chemicals found in common household products. The draft risk assessments were developed as part of the agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identified common chemicals for review over the coming years to assess any impacts on people’s health and the environment. Following public comment, the agency will seek an independent, scientific peer review of the assessments before beginning to finalize them in the fall of 2013.

“The draft risk assessments released today for public review and comment highlight the agency’s ongoing commitment to ensure the safety of chemicals we encounter in our daily lives,” said James J. Jones, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The public and scientific peer review will ensure use of the best science to evaluate any impacts of these substances on people’s health and the environment.”

The five assessments address the following chemical uses: methylene chloride or dichloromethane (DCM) and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in paint stripper products; trichloroethylene (TCE) as a degreaser and a spray-on protective coating; antimony trioxide (ATO) as a synergist in halogenated flame retardants; and 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethylcyclopenta-[γ]-2-benzopyran (HHCB) as a fragrance ingredient in commercial and consumer products. The draft assessments focus either on human health or ecological hazards for specific uses which are subject to regulation under TSCA. Three of the draft risk assessments— DCM, NMP, and TCE— indicate a potential concern for human health under specific exposure scenarios for particular uses. The preliminary assessments for ATO and HHCB indicate a low concern for ecological health.

EPA recommends the public follow product label directions and take precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside or in an extremely well ventilated area and wearing protective equipment to reduce exposure. If EPA concludes in finalizing the risk assessments that there is a potential for concern, the agency will take action as appropriate to address possible risks.

The draft assessments were undertaken as part of EPA’s efforts to identify chemicals for review under the TSCA Work Plan, which EPA released in March 2012. At that time, EPA identified 83 chemicals as candidates for review over the coming years and outlined the data sources and other information the agency would use in the reviews. This initiative is part of EPA’s comprehensive approach to enhance the current chemicals management program within the limits of existing TSCA authorities. EPA continues to support updating TSCA to strengthen and modernize the law.

Additional information on the TSCA Work Plan effort and the specific draft risk assessments can be found at:  http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/workplans.html

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