Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 6, 2021, that it will provide $9,272,545 in funding to seven institutions for research to estimate better children’s chemical exposures from soil and dust ingestion. According to EPA, the research will focus on improving estimates of children’s ingestion rates of chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and asbestos. EPA states that “[a]ccurate, comprehensive measurements of soil and dust ingestion rates are critical for effective risk assessment, reduction, mitigation, and prevention measures.” The following researchers are receiving funding through EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program to help improve children’s health:

  • Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, will conduct a community-based research study to understand and mitigate chemical contaminant exposure among children in neighborhoods with high lead and heavy metal contamination in soils around West Atlanta;
  • Florida International University, Miami, Florida, will estimate soil and dust ingestion rates in children by identifying specific tracers of dust and soil exposure combined with relevant environmental information;
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, will create an integrated and innovative portfolio of tools and approaches to assess dust and soil exposures for children ages six months to six years via activity pattern and tracer studies;
  • New York University, New York, New York, will evaluate specific home environment factors and practices that lead to elevated levels of individual toxic substances ingestible by infants. According to EPA, the researchers hope to evaluate mitigation strategies to reduce infants’ exposure to harmful chemicals in household dust;
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, will obtain data on dust loading on various objects and surfaces in children’s homes, foods, and children’s hands. The researchers will also conduct computer-aided investigations about children’s hand contacts and mouthing patterns;
  • University of California Davis, Davis, California, will develop an innovative method for determining children’s dust ingestion rates using unique tracer compounds identified in household dusts; and
  • University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nevada, will develop a behavior-driven dust and soil ingestion model to predict the dust and soil ingestion rate from children’s microenvironmental features and behavioral factors.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 27, 2021, that it will provide $3.8 million in funding to create two EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Centers for Early Lifestage Vulnerabilities to Environmental Stressors. The centers will focus on early lifestage exposures to chemicals and non-chemical environmental stressors and how these exposures may impact early childhood developmental health. EPA states that scientific research suggests that exposures to pollutants and non-chemical stressors during early lifestages may be crucial determinants of lifetime health. Exposures to cumulative mixtures of chemicals, along with other stressors, such as poverty, limited access to services, and changing environmental conditions, may pose developmental and lifelong health risks. According to EPA, accurate and comprehensive assessments of cumulative impacts are needed to make sound decisions regarding risk reduction, mitigation, and prevention measures. Each center will focus on two individual research projects:

  • Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina:
    • Evaluating the Causal Impacts of Early Life Chemical Exposures on Neurodevelopmental Functioning in Early Childhood -- Researchers will identify the occurrences and types of chemicals found in toddlers’ caregiving environments and evaluate how these cumulative chemical exposures are associated with neurodevelopmental functioning in early childhood; and
    • Investigating Whether the Caregiving Environment Moderates the Impact of Early Life Chemical Exposures on Neurodevelopmental Functioning in Early Childhood -- Researchers will investigate whether home caregiving environments alter the impacts of early life chemical exposures on neurodevelopmental outcomes in early childhood.
  • University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
    • Early Life Exposure and Neurobehavioral Development -- Researchers will leverage an ongoing, longitudinal study of normative brain development, the UNC Baby Connectome Study, to examine the role that early life exposure to phthalates and other chemicals plays in early childhood behavior, memory, language and motor development, and social cognition; and
    • Neural Substrates of Prenatal and Early Life Neurotoxicity Using Non-Invasive Imaging Methods -- Researchers will work to improve the understanding of the relationships between prenatal and early life exposures and structural and functional brain development, particularly in the third trimester of pregnancy, an important time for brain development.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 24, 2021, a “unique and broad group” of chemical manufacturers, brand owners, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO), states, and municipalities sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to express their “strong support” for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice Program and to encourage that the program be funded fully. The letter asks that the following language be included in the report:

The Committee supports the Safer Choice program and directs that the program be funded and operated at least at levels consistent with Fiscal Year 2014, adjusted for inflation.

According to the letter, in the last quarter of 2020, EPA reorganized the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), dissolving the Safer Choice branch and reassigning most staff to the areas of OCSPP. The letter states that “[a]s a result, the program is now severely under-resourced with approximately four full-time staff.” The Biden-Harris EPA has taken steps to restore the program, but EPA still faces resource constraints.

The letter describes how companies across the value chain use the Safer Choice brand to advance their individual safer chemical initiatives. Chemical manufacturers invested in developing safer chemicals now listed on the Safer Choice’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List (SCIL). Brand owners and product manufacturers have reformulated products using the SCIL to obtain Safer Choice certification. Major retailers specify the Safer Choice label as a verifiable way to meet corporate goals laid out in public-facing chemicals policies.

According to the letter, the Safer Choice Program also provides value to entities outside of the supply chain. States and municipalities rely on the Safer Choice Program “because it is the only third-party program that requires all ingredients to be screened for hazards instead of simply using a restricted substances list.” NGOs and consumers “find significant value in an authoritative government program that can be trusted to vet safer chemicals and products.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 29, 2020, that is seeking applications from states, federally-recognized tribes, Native American organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGO) to provide technical support for the National Tribal Toxics Council (NTTC).  The NTTC works collaboratively with EPA to represent tribal interests in the development and implementation of chemical risk assessment, risk management, and pollution prevention programs.  EPA states that it anticipates awarding one cooperative agreement for approximately $800,000 over a five-year period that will focus on the following activities:

  • Assist federally-recognized tribes, Alaska Native Villages, and intertribal organizations in selecting and maintaining a geographically diverse membership with a diversity of relevant and technical expertise in the NTTC;
  • Assist the NTTC in maintaining a viable charter that covers activities eligible for EPA funding and fulfilling the objectives of that charter; and
  • Provide professional and technical support to the NTTC to conduct its meetings and other activities.

Applications are due June 15, 2020.

Tags: NTTC, Funding