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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On February 15, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a final rule regarding a further compliance date extension for phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)). EPA proposed in October 2021 to extend the compliance date applicable to the processing and distribution in commerce of certain PIP (3:1)-containing articles and the PIP (3:1) used to make those articles until October 31, 2024, along with the associated recordkeeping requirements for manufacturers, processors, and distributors of PIP (3:1)-containing articles. EPA noted that the articles covered by the proposed rule include a wide range of key consumer and commercial goods such as cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other electronic and electrical devices and industrial and commercial equipment used in various sectors, including transportation, construction, agriculture, forestry, mining, life sciences, and semiconductor production. The proposed rule followed a final rule that extended the compliance date applicable to the processing and distribution in commerce of certain PIP (3:1)-containing articles, and the PIP (3:1) used to make those articles, from March 8, 2021, to March 8, 2022, along with the associated recordkeeping requirements. More information on the proposed rule is available in our October 25, 2021, memorandum. It is not clear when OMB will complete its review or if the final rule will be published prior to the current March 8 compliance deadline.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On January 21, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will hold a virtual peer review meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) to consider and review the “Draft TSCA Screening Level Approach for Assessing Ambient Air and Water Exposures to Fenceline Communities Version 1.0.” 87 Fed. Reg. 3294. The meeting will be held March 15-17, 2022, and will be open to the public. Along with presenting the methodology, EPA will also present results of applying the screening methodology (case studies) to 1-bromopropane (1-BP) (air pathway), N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) (water pathway), and methylene chloride (MC) (air and water pathway). In addition, EPA announced the availability of and solicited public comments on the draft approach, which will be presented as a screening level methodology for assessing potential air and water chemical exposures to fenceline communities. Comments are due February 22, 2022.

EPA's background documents, related supporting materials, and draft charge questions to the SACC are available in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2021-0415 and on the SACC website. EPA will provide additional background documents (e.g., SACC members and consultants participating in this meeting and the meeting agenda) as the materials become available. Registration is required to receive the webcast meeting link and audio teleconference information. EPA states that it intends to announce registration instructions on the SACC website by early February 2022.

More information and a detailed commentary will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 28, 2021, it is granting a petition from six North Carolina public health and environmental justice organizations filed under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to compel companies to conduct testing of certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The previous Administration denied the petition on January 22, 2021. 86 Fed. Reg. 6602. The petition sought issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling The Chemours Company to fund and carry out this testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists. The petitioners requested that EPA reconsider its denial in March 2021, which EPA agreed to do in September 2021, in light of the change in Administration and attendant change in policy priorities concerning PFAS. As reported in our October 19, 2021, memorandum, EPA published a National PFAS Testing Strategy (Testing Strategy) that identifies priority substances for the first of several described phases of an iterative testing approach based on grouping of chemicals by chemistry features and available toxicity data. EPA states that these substances include many of the chemicals identified in the petition, as well as additional PFAS that will inform a wider universe of categories of PFAS where key data are lacking. For example, according to EPA, the first phase of testing on 24 PFAS is expected to provide data that can be extrapolated to 2,950 PFAS that belong to the same categories as the 24 individual substances.

EPA states that it has granted the petition and will use its TSCA Section 4 order authority to require PFAS manufacturers to conduct and fund the following studies that will provide toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS:

  • Near-Term Testing Covers 30 of 54 Petition Chemicals -- Under the Testing Strategy, EPA’s first test orders for 24 categories of PFAS about which the least is known will provide human health hazard data that cover 30 of the 54 petition chemicals;
  • Subsequent Testing May Cover Nine of 54 Petition Chemicals -- An additional nine PFAS identified in the petition belong to one other category included in the Testing Strategy. EPA is conducting more in-depth analyses of the sufficiency of the existing data, which will inform later phases of testing;
  • Remaining 15 of 54 Petition Chemicals -- According to EPA, 15 chemicals identified in the petition do not fit the definition of PFAS used in developing the Testing Strategy. EPA has determined that there are robust data on some of them available to it. EPA is conducting more in-depth analyses of the existing data, which will inform later phases of testing;
  • Mixtures Studies -- EPA will address PFAS mixtures by using the toxicity of the individual substances to predict the toxicity of the mixture, an approach which is consistent with the current state-of-science on PFAS. EPA is proceeding with development and peer review of these methods as specifically applied to PFAS;
  • Human Studies -- EPA is contributing to and reviewing numerous existing ongoing human studies, including studies on potentially exposed workers and communities in North Carolina, and is evaluating how to advance and expand on these efforts further. These include studies of health outcomes for people in communities impacted by industrial PFAS releases, as well studies that explore the connection between chronic health outcomes and PFAS exposures in North Carolina; and
  • Analytical Standards -- EPA does not believe it is appropriate to require the development or submission of analytical standards with the initial test orders that will be issued under the Testing Strategy and lacks the ability to order the submission of all analytical standards in the manner requested. Nonetheless, EPA has requested comment on whether to require the submission of existing analytical methods for PFAS under a separate rulemaking that the Agency expects to issue in final next year.

Commentary

EPA’s reversal is hardly surprising. The Biden Administration’s commitment to obtaining information on PFAS is clear and has been reinforced in many contexts. In her remarks before the Committee on Energy and Commerce on October 27, 2021, for example, Assistant Administrator Freedhoff stated that EPA is “scouring all sources of information to identify important gaps in existing data and to select representative chemicals within identified categories or additional testing.” Reconsidering the prior Administration’s denial of the Section 21 petition seems like a no-brainer.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On November 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of its response to an August 16, 2021, petition filed under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 86 Fed. Reg. 64129. William D. Bush requested that EPA determine that the “chemical mixtures contained within cosmetics present an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment,” and issue a rule or order under TSCA to “eliminate the hazardous chemicals used in mixtures [in cosmetics].” EPA states that after “careful consideration,” it has denied the petition. EPA notes that TSCA Section 3(2)(B) excludes “cosmetic” from the definition of “chemical substance” when manufactured, processed, or distributed in commerce for use as a cosmetic. Cosmetics, and any combination of chemicals contained therein, are thus not chemical substances under TSCA when manufactured, processed, or distributed in commerce for use as a cosmetic. EPA states that to the extent the petition seeks a TSCA Section 6 action on “cosmetics” when manufactured, processed, or distributed in commerce as cosmetics, the requested actions are not within its jurisdiction under TSCA. In addition, according to EPA, to the extent the petition seeks action on “chemical substances” within the TSCA Section 3(2) definition of that term, EPA finds that the petition did not set forth facts establishing that it is necessary for EPA to initiate an appropriate proceeding pursuant to TSCA Section 21. In particular, according to EPA, the petition did not identify the disposal of any particular chemical substance(s) or mixture(s) that could support a determination of unreasonable risk to the environment and, therefore, did not set forth sufficient facts establishing that it is necessary to issue a TSCA Section 6(a) rule addressing cosmetic disposal.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its response to a petition submitted under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seeking a rule requiring cigarette manufacturers to eliminate the hazardous chemicals used and to develop new product designs that eliminate or reduce the cigarette butt disposal risks to the environment. 86 Fed. Reg. 59931. EPA states that TSCA Section 6(a) authorizes it to determine if a chemical substance or mixture in manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce, use, disposal, or any combination of these activities presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. If EPA determines that there is unreasonable risk to health or the environment, then EPA must, by rule, issue regulations to the extent necessary so that the chemical substance no longer presents such risk. EPA notes that TSCA Section 3(2)(B), which defines “chemical substance,” excludes “tobacco or any tobacco product,” however. Under Section 201(rr) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), “tobacco product” means “any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product.” EPA states that it finds that the petitioner has not met its burden as defined in TSCA Sections 6(a) and 21(b)(1) “because cigarettes are not a product that can be regulated under TSCA section 6(a).”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 28, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to amend the regulations applicable to phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)) promulgated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 86 Fed. Reg. 59684. Specifically, EPA is proposing to extend the compliance date applicable to the processing and distribution in commerce of certain PIP (3:1)-containing articles, and the PIP (3:1) used to make those articles until October 31, 2024, along with the associated recordkeeping requirements for manufacturers, processors, and distributors of PIP (3:1)-containing articles. EPA also announced its intention to commence a new rulemaking effort on PIP (3:1) and four other persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals that have been regulated under TSCA Section 6(h). EPA states that it is anticipating issuing a proposal to this end in 2023. Comments on the proposed rule are due December 27, 2021. More information is available in our October 25, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Proposes Further Extension of Compliance Dates for PIP (3:1)-Containing Articles.”

Commentary

As anyone in this commercial space will attest, the proposal to extend the compliance date is good news. The deadline is still very aggressive for many, and case-specific requests for time beyond that deadline are essential. A thorough review of the notice is essential and urged.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 7, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed its review of a proposed rule on “Regulation of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals Under TSCA Section 6(h); Phenol, Isopropylated Phosphate (3:1); Further Compliance Date Extension.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 3, 2021, an extension of certain compliance dates for Phenol, Isopropylated Phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)) to March 8, 2022, “to address the hardships inadvertently created by the original applicable compliance dates in the January 2021 final rule to ensure that supply chains are not disrupted for key consumer and commercial goods.” The proposed rule reviewed by OIRA is expected to propose further extensions to certain article-related compliance dates. More information on EPA’s September 3, 2021, announcement is available in our memorandum, “EPA Plans New Rulemaking for PBTs, Extends Compliance Dates for PIP (3:1) Rule.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seeking a rule requiring cigarette manufacturers to eliminate the hazardous chemicals used and to develop new product designs that eliminate or reduce the cigarette butt disposal risks to the environment. Filed by William David Bush, the petition states that the more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke come from chemicals within the soil, the paper surrounding the tobacco column, and the manufacturing process, while others are deliberately added. According to the petition, cigarette butts endanger the health of the environment, comprising 30-40 percent of items collected in annual coastal/urban cleanups. Organic compounds “seep from cigarette butts into aquatic ecosystems, becoming acutely toxic to fish and microorganisms.” The petitioner asks EPA to:

  • Determine that the chemical mixtures contained within cigarettes present an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment;
  • Order by rule that cigarette manufacturers eliminate the hazardous chemicals used in a mixture with tobacco, including but not limited to the toxic substance inclusions resulting from tobacco growing or handling techniques;
  • Order by rule that cigarette manufacturers develop new product designs that eliminate or reduce the cigarette butt disposal risks to the environment.

EPA acknowledged receipt of Bush’s petition on September 9, 2021, stating that it will grant or deny the petition by October 31, 2021.
 
EPA received a second TSCA Section 21 petition from Bush on August 16, 2021, seeking a determination that the chemical mixtures contained within cosmetics present an unreasonable risk of injury to public health and the environment. According to the petition, since 2009, almost 600 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals in more than 73,000 products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. The petition states that these toxic chemicals have been banned by the European Union (EU) “and many other nations.” The petition notes that Congress has not given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the chronic risks posed by chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics and that FDA does not have the power to suspend registration or order recalls when products pose a risk of serious adverse health consequences or death. The petition asks that EPA order by rule that cosmetic manufacturers eliminate hazardous chemicals used in mixtures, stating that examples include formaldehyde, paraformaldehyde, methylene glycol, quaternium 15, mercury, dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and m- and o-phenylenediamine.

EPA acknowledged receipt of Bush’s second petition on September 20, 2021, stating that it will grant or deny the petition by November 14, 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule amending the regulations applicable to phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)) promulgated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 86 Fed. Reg. 51823. Specifically, EPA is extending the compliance date applicable to the processing and distribution in commerce of certain PIP (3:1)-containing articles, and the PIP (3:1) used to make those articles, from March 8, 2021, to March 8, 2022. For such articles, EPA states that it is also extending the compliance date for the recordkeeping requirements applicable to manufacturers, processors, and distributors from March 8, 2021, to March 8, 2022. According to EPA, the articles covered by the amendment “include a wide range of key consumer and commercial goods such as cellular telephones, laptop computers, and other electronic and electrical devices and industrial and commercial equipment used in various sectors including transportation, life sciences, and semiconductor production.” The final rule is effective September 17, 2021. More information on the final PIP (3:1) rule and on EPA’s plan for a new rulemaking on persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals is available in our September 3, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Plans New Rulemaking for PBTs, Extends Compliance Dates for PIP (3:1) Rule.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 19, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a collaborative agreement with Unilever to explore better ways to assess chemical risks associated with consumer products. According to EPA, this agreement builds on prior cooperation between EPA and Unilever regarding New Approach Methods (NAM), “which are a promising alternative to conventional toxicity testing that are intended to reduce reliance on the use of animals.” EPA states that the collaboration aims to establish a framework for the Next Generation of Risk Assessments based on NAMs. The collaboration will bring together more than $2 million in both monetary and in-kind contributions, including scientific expertise and equipment, to develop a comprehensive NAMs dataset for a minimum of 40 chemicals. According to EPA, the chemicals will be selected and grouped such that half will be benign and the other half will have known adverse implications for human health. These chemicals will be tested using a wide variety of NAMs, and the results will be compared between the two groups to determine how well particular NAMs can infer differences in risk. EPA states that these data will be used in case studies to evaluate the potential to use NAMs in regulatory decisions. All data generated through the collaboration will be in the public domain, allowing academic, corporate, government, and nonprofit scientists to use the project results in their own research.
 
EPA states that in addition to the data generated through the collaboration, EPA and Unilever will use chemical data from EPA’s high-throughput screening efforts and the federal government’s Tox21 consortium, which is a collaboration among EPA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to EPA, “[t]hese automated chemical screening technologies rapidly test thousands of chemicals for their effects on human cells or cellular components that are critical to normal function.” EPA notes that data from these technologies are then incorporated into computational models to predict potential adverse health effects and estimate the amount of chemical that may cause these effects.


 
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