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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on November 15, 2018, announcing the availability of and seeking public comment on the first draft chemical risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg).  The draft risk evaluation for Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 is intended to determine whether C.I. Pigment Violet 29 presents an unreasonable risk to health or the environment under the conditions of use, including an unreasonable risk to a relevant potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation.  According to the notice, EPA is also submitting these same documents to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) to peer review the draft risk evaluation.  EPA intends to publish a separate Federal Register notice containing the peer review meeting details.  Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due January 14, 2019.  EPA will provide all comments submitted on the draft risk evaluation to the TSCA SACC peer review panel, which will have the opportunity to consider the comments during its discussions.  More information is available in the full memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On August 29, 2018, the Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce issued a press release announcing that they have renewed their request for a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the amendments made by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The Democrats note this is the fourth request they have made for hearings to be held on EPA’s management of toxic chemicals.  According to the press release, the Democrats “remain concerned that EPA’s implementation of the reformed TSCA program contradicts the new law’s language and intent and undermines public confidence in the program.”  The press release states that the Democrats “are concerned that EPA is ignoring its own scientific evidence and the recommendations of its experienced career staff regarding TSCA implementation at the expense of public health.  They point to a recent report from the New York Times that found EPA officials proposed a rulemaking to review applications for use of asbestos in consumer products over the objections of EPA attorneys and scientists.”  The Democrats “also charge that EPA has abandoned its statutory mandate to review all new and existing chemicals known or foreseeable uses and exposure putting human health and the environment at risk,” possibly resulting in an incomplete evaluation of the health and environmental risk of a number of “extremely toxic chemicals, including asbestos, perchloroethylene (PERC), methylene chloride, and trichloroethylene (TCE).”  The letter was signed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Doris Matsui (D-CA).


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 7, 2018, EPA is expected to announce the extension of the comment period on the problem formulations for the risk evaluations for the first 10 chemicals under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6.  The notice extends the comment period on the problem formulations and the document titled Application of Systematic Review of TSCA Risk Evaluations, an additional 21 days, until August 16, 2018.  Reportedly EPA received several requests to extend the deadline.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts, Jason E. Johnston, M.S., Sheryl Lindros Dolan, and Margaret R. Graham

On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a preparatory meeting for experts selected to serve as letter peer reviewers for EPA's Exposure and Use Assessment and Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary for five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals.  A list of those chemicals is available here.  Although the meeting was scheduled for four hours, it adjourned after only two hours, as there were only a few questions from peer reviewers and only two outside stakeholders providing oral comments.  Below are some highlights/takeaways from the meeting:

  • All five PBT chemicals being reviewed scored high for hazard;
  • Two PBT chemicals were pulled from EPA action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6 because manufacturers requested risk evaluations for them prior to the September 19, 2016, deadline;
  • Four of the PBT chemicals scored high or moderate for exposure; one scored low (pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP));
  • For exposure assessment, EPA split up information as “core exposure data” or “supplemental exposure data”:  core exposure data would be environmental data, monitoring, biomonitoring, modeled concentrations, or modeled dose; and supplemental exposure data would be environmental fate, engineering data, or other information related to exposure information or pathways;
  • EPA identified exposure scenarios -- looking at source/use, environmental pathways, and receptors;
  • EPA did not conduct any new modeling on the chemicals but did use modeled data from published literature;
  • EPA did not conduct an exhaustive literature search, review, or assessment of hazard data, it used data readily available, as described in the Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary; the EPA document “Supplemental Information for the Exposure and Use Assessment of Five Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic Chemicals” outlines the literature search process used for exposure data; and
  • Exposure scenarios include both quantitative and qualitative information.

No written comments were submitted prior to the peer review webinar. Only three people signed up for oral comments, and one was not present online.  The two public commenters noted concerns regarding the likelihood of exposure, including the potential for accidental exposures; the lack of EPA focus on susceptible subpopulations; EPA’s intent not to address exposures that are already regulated under other EPA programs; and the need to assess the risk of bias.

Per the language in amended TSCA, EPA must issue risk management proposals to reduce exposures to the extent practicable by June 19, 2019.

Any public comments submitted by July 23, 2018, will be shared with peer reviewers. Comments submitted between July 23, 2018, and August 17, 2018, will be available to EPA for consideration.  All comments are due by August 17, 2018.  A recording of the webinar, slides, and other materials from the meeting will be posted in Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0314.  There are currently six supporting documents posted:

Stay up-to-date on TSCA implementation issues via our Recent Regulatory Developments web page and our TSCAblog.


 

By Lynn L. BergesonCharles M. Auer, and Carla N. Hutton

On June 20, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance intended “to improve transparency with the public and with companies seeking Agency review of their new chemical substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).”  EPA states that the guidance, entitled Points to Consider When Preparing TSCA New Chemical Notifications, “promotes early engagement and communication, and enhances overall understanding of EPA’s technical review and analysis to better move chemicals through the evaluation process.”  EPA incorporated comments from a December 2017 public meeting and feedback received on a November 2017 draft of the document into its guidance.  EPA also issued a “Response to Comments Received on Points to Consider Posted for Comment November 2017.”  EPA states that it expects that use of the guidance will result in “more robust submissions.”  EPA encourages companies to contact its new chemicals program to set up a pre-submission (or “pre-notice”) meeting before submitting their premanufacture notices (PMN).  According to EPA, the pre-submission meeting is an opportunity to discuss the planned new chemical submission and to understand EPA’s approach to reviewing new chemicals for potential risks early in the process.

More information will be available in our detailed analysis to be issued in a memorandum later today and posted to our Recent Regulatory Developments web page.


 

By Susan M. Kirsch

On May 22-23, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) National Leadership Summit (Summit) in Washington, D.C.  The Summit convened federal and state regulators, including representatives from EPA’s Office of Water (OW), EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), a small group of invited industry participants, and representative from the environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) community.  The goals of the Summit were:

  • To share information on efforts to characterize risks from PFAS and to develop monitoring and remediation technologies/techniques;
  • To identify near-term actions to address current state and local challenges; and
  • To develop risk communication strategies to address public concerns and questions surrounding PFAS.

EPA broadcast the opening remarks and perspectives delivered by EPA Administrator Pruitt; Peter Grevatt, Director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water; Jeff Morris, Director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT); Craig Butler, Direct of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) Water Committee; and Jessica Bowman, Senior Director of Global Fluoro-Chemistry, at the American Chemistry Council.  During his remarks, Pruitt announced that EPA will soon classify two fluorochemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS), as hazardous substances, and that EPA will begin to development maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  PFOA and PFOS are largely legacy chemicals that were the subject of voluntary phase out by chemical manufacturers.  The presence of PFOA and PFOS at former manufacturing sites and detections in groundwater and drinking water have raised public health concerns and made headlines over the last several months, particularly in Northeast states.

Butler’s remarks highlighted the key questions that ECOS and state participants hoped to have addressed by EPA over the course of the Summit, including any plans for MCL development, guidance on contaminated site remediation and PFAS analytical methods, and EPA’s plan to address data and knowledge gaps about PFOA and PFOS, as well as the alternative short-chain PFAS chemistry that makes up the majority of current and new uses of PFAS.  States are eager for direction and assistance from EPA on standard-setting and, in the absence of federal standards, some states have begun to set their own standards.  A copy of the ECOS statement is available here.

Grevatt shared plans for further co-regulator discussions and community engagement as part of an EPA “roadshow” beginning in late June in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Morris provided an overview of the rigors of the pre-market review process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and OPPT’s ongoing work to better understand the diverse range of PFAS in the marketplace. 

EPA intended for the Summit to serve as a formal launch of an ongoing dialogue with states, the public, and industry on PFAS, and more details will likely be shared in the coming weeks and months.  A recording of the May 22, 2018, broadcast is available on EPA’s YouTube channel.  Copies of the slide presentations from the Summit are available on EPA’s PFAS Summit website.

Tags: PFAS, PFOS, PFOA, EPA, Summit

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new report on April 11, 2018, that finds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program has made “substantial progress” in implementing recommendations outlined by the National Academies in previous reports.  According to the April 11, 2018, press release, the transformation of IRIS began several years ago, after the release of a 2011 National Academies report that provided suggestions for creating a more systematic and transparent IRIS process.  In a 2014 report, the National Academies reviewed the changes implemented by EPA since 2011 and concluded that the improvements were considerable.  Under the Program’s new leadership, EPA asked the National Academies to review again its progress toward addressing past recommendations.  The press release states that the National Academies’ latest review, Progress Toward Transforming the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, finds that the IRIS Program has made substantial progress in incorporating systematic-review methods into its process and assessments.  The IRIS Program has also established a systematic-review working group and engaged subject-matter experts.  According to the report, these groups should increase efficiency and consistency among assessments and improve the scientific rigor of the assessments.  Although the National Academies Committee to Review Advances Made to the IRIS Process “offers some refinements and identifies a few possibilities for further development,” the report states that “its overall conclusion is that EPA has been responsive and has made substantial progress in implementing National Academies[’] recommendations.”

 

Tags: IRIS,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On March 22, 2018, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt appointed 11 additional members to the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals.  Under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the purpose of the Committee is to provide independent advice and expert consultation, at the request of the EPA Administrator, with respect to the scientific and technical aspects of risk assessments, methodologies, and pollution prevention measures or approaches supporting implementation of the Act.  According to EPA, these additional members “will increase the balance of scientific perspectives and add experts with experience in labor, public interest, animal protection and chemical manufacturing and processing to the committee.”  The additional 11 members -- three from non-governmental organizations (NGO), four from industry, and four from academia or governmental organizations -- will supplement the 18 expert members that were appointed on January 19, 2017.  The Committee will meet three to four times a year for two years, and its charter can be extended.  EPA has not yet scheduled the Committee’s first meeting.

Two of the members have reportedly declined the appointment.  Dr. Michael Wilson, National Director for Occupational and Environmental Health at the BlueGreen Alliance, “notified EPA that he was unable to accept the appointment,” according to a spokesperson for the BlueGreen Alliance.  Dr. Jennifer McPartland, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, has also declined the appointment.  Ruthann Rudel, Director of Research at the Silent Spring Institute, stated that she is “collecting some advice and information” and has not decided whether to accept the appointment. 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On January 31, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of its 2018 Annual Report on Risk Evaluations.  Pursuant to Section 26(n)(2) of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA is directed to publish an annual plan at the beginning of each calendar year identifying the chemical substances that will undergo risk evaluations during that year. The plan is to include both risk evaluations that will be initiated and that will be completed, the resources necessary for completion, and the status and schedule for ongoing evaluations.  The 2018 annual plan identifies the next steps for the first ten chemical reviews currently underway and describes EPA’s work in 2018 to prepare for future risk evaluations.

EPA issued scoping documents on the first ten chemical reviews in June 2017.  The plan states that in early calendar year 2018, EPA will be making refinements to these scope documents in the form of “problem formulation documents” that will include additional elements such as conceptual models.  EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the release of these problem formulation documents and will invite comments for 45 days.  

The plan also states that EPA will initiate prioritization for 40 chemicals (at least 20 Low-Priority and 20 High-Priority candidates) by the end of calendar year 2018.  By December 22, 2019, EPA plans to have designated 20 substances as Low-Priority and initiated risk evaluations on 20 High-Priority substances.  Further, EPA will be proposing the much-anticipated TSCA Fees Rule in early-mid fiscal year (FY) 2018, and anticipates issuing a final rule in late FY2018.

Information on EPA’s 2017 Annual Report is available in our blog item EPA Publishes 2017 Annual Report on Chemical Risk Evaluations.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Susan M. Kirsch, and Margaret R. Graham

On January 30, 2018, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) convened an Oversight Hearing to Receive Testimony from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt.  In a written statement submitted in advance of the hearing, Pruitt described implementation of the new Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, or the “new” Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as being of “significant importance” and a “top priority for ensuring the safety of chemicals in the marketplace.”  In opening remarks, Senator Tom Carper (Ranking Member of the EPW Committee) (D-DE)) challenged Pruitt’s record on implementing TSCA reform, stating that EPA has not truly used the authority bestowed on it through TSCA to declare that products being sold on the market are safe, therefore, consumers do not have the confidence that they deserve and that Congress intended in passing TSCA.  Pruitt did not respond to this comment, and did not go on to address TSCA implementation in his brief opening remarks.  Instead, Pruitt devoted the bulk of his opening statement to highlighting specific areas where EPA’s environmental protection goals dovetail well with opportunities for economic growth.  These issues/economic opportunities included:  investment in infrastructure to eradicate lead from drinking water within a decade; advancing initiatives that incentivize private companies to take on clean-up projects at abandoned mines; and remediation activities at “Superfund” sites -- hazardous waste sites regulated under the  Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) expressed concern that EPA’s chemical reviews under TSCA were only focusing on new “items” (chemicals) being made, but overlooking “legacy” chemicals already in the environment (e.g., asbestos).  Merkley cited a report that claimed that review of the ten chemicals on the priority list were being “slow-walked.”  In response, Pruitt stated “it is an absolute priority during [EPA’s] first year,” the three TSCA final rules were issued consistent with the implementation schedule in the first year, and the backlog of chemical reviews has been addressed through the addition of resources. 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) expressed her concerns regarding the toxic levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that have been found throughout New York State, stating that EPA was not using its TSCA authority to regulate these chemicals, as the implementation final rules “ignored the public’s exposure to the past uses of chemicals called legacy uses” that could still have the potential to contaminate groundwater.  She also stated her concern that due to this oversight, EPA will not likely study the health risks of widespread exposure to chemicals such as PFOS/PFOS.  She requested of Pruitt to revise the TSCA implementation rules to address legacy issues, so that “all uses of a chemical, including legacy uses, are studied.”  Pruitt stated that as PFOA and PFOS have not been manufactured since early 2000, they are in fact legacy uses, and that EPA was “very much going to focus” on this issue.  Gillibrand appeared to be content with his answer, as she did not demand a further commitment from him.  In regards to the Hudson River, Gillibrand requested that data from the sediment sampling be integrated into EPA’s five year review plan regarding the effectiveness of dredging for removing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) from the Hudson River.  Pruitt stated that EPA was reviewing the samples currently and that there is more work to be done to get clarity on this issue.  Gillibrand requested Pruitt to personally review the final report to ensure that all issues have been addressed and Pruitt confirmed that he would.

Near the close of the hearing, Senator Carper further stated that EPA has failed to follow through on its proposed ban of three highly toxic chemicals that Congress gave it the authority to ban when it enacted TSCA reform:  specifically methylene chloride, tricholoroethylene (TCE), and methylpyrrolidone (NMP), and asked Pruitt to commit to using EPA’s authority to ban them within the next 30 days.  Pruitt responded that they are on the priority list and that he will confirm this with the agency (that they are priorities, not that they will be banned in 30 days).  EPA’s delay in finalizing the bans was among the failures cited in the Senate EPW Minority Staff report, released January 29, 2018, “Basically Backward:  How the Trump Administration is Erasing Decades of Air, Water and Land Protections and Jeopardizing Public Health.”

Several Senators indicated their intention to submit additional questions for the record.  Pruitt has until February 13, 2018, to submit written responses, which will be made available on the EPW Committee website.  The full hearing is available on the EPW Committee’s website.  


 
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