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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appointed nine new members to serve on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). Additionally, EPA appointed a new Chair and reappointed seven existing members. In EPA’s July 13, 2021, announcement, EPA notes that members of the TSCA SACC serve staggered terms of appointment, generally of three years. They possess expertise in scientific and technical fields relevant to chemical risk assessment and pollution prevention, including human health and ecological risk assessment and chemical exposure to susceptible life stages and subpopulations. EPA states that in addition to scientific expertise, members also have backgrounds and experiences that will contribute to the diversity of scientific viewpoints, including professional experiences in government, public health, industry, and other groups. According to EPA, TSCA SACC serves as a primary scientific peer review mechanism of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) and is structured to provide independent scientific advice and recommendations to EPA on the scientific basis for risk assessments, methodologies, and pollution prevention measures and approaches for chemicals regulated under TSCA.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 8, 2021, that it is releasing an updated toxicity assessment for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), which is a member of the group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  EPA states that this PFBS assessment is part of its commitment to restore scientific integrity to all of the Agency’s actions and increase the amount of research and information available to the public on PFAS.  According to EPA’s announcement, “EPA, federal agencies, states, tribes, and local communities can use the PFBS toxicity assessment, along with specific exposure and other relevant information, to determine if and when it is necessary to take action to address potential health risks associated with human exposures to PFBS under appropriate regulations and statutes.”  EPA notes that the updated assessment “has gone through all appropriate reviews, includes input EPA received from external peer review, upholds the tenants of scientific integrity, was authored by expert career scientists in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and has not been compromised by political staff -- these were all issues with a version of the assessment that was posted during the previous administration.  The release of today’s PFBS assessment upholds the integrity of EPA’s science, which EPA, states, tribes, and more rely on to make decisions that protect the health of their communities.”
 
According to EPA’s fact sheet on the toxicity assessment, PFBS is a replacement chemical for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a PFAS that was voluntarily phased out by the primary U.S. manufacturer by 2002.  PFBS has been identified in the environment and consumer products, including surface water, wastewater, drinking water, dust, carpeting and carpet cleaners, and floor wax.  The fact sheet states that the PFBS toxicity assessment is comparable to assessments developed under EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and Provisional Peer-Reviewed Toxicity Value (PPRTV) Programs in that it provides hazard identification, dose-response information, and toxicity values.  EPA will continue to work with state, tribal, and local partners to provide technical assistance as they consider the final PFBS toxicity values in relevant exposure scenarios.  The fact sheet notes that at this time, EPA does not plan to issue a regulation for PFBS.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host its first annual conference to discuss alternative test methods and strategies to reduce animal testing on December 17, 2019, in Washington, D.C.  According to EPA, the conference will bring together some of the leading voices in environmental and health research to discuss efforts to reduce testing on mammals.  The conference will focus on the New Approach Methods (NAM) and will feature presentations by U.S. and international scientific experts on advancements in the field.  On-site participants will have the opportunity to exchange information about scientific advancements in the NAMs field to develop a better understanding of the state of the science, discuss approaches for developing scientific confidence in using alternatives, and summarize existing studies characterizing the uncertainties in results from animal testing.  The public can register to participate via webinar.
 
As reported in our September 11, 2019, blog item, on September 10, 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a directive to prioritize efforts to reduce animal testing.  The directive states that EPA “will reduce its requests for, and [its] funding of, mammal studies by 30 percent by 2025 and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035.  Any mammal studies requested or funded by the EPA after 2035 will require Administrator approval on a case-by-case basis.”
 
EPA notes that over the past several years, it has made significant scientific advancements in NAMs and has led efforts to reduce, replace, and refine its animal testing requirements.  On December 5, 2019, EPA updated the list of NAMs that it developed pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the 2016 Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act.  EPA states that it “will continue to lead the way among federal agencies in the United States and internationally.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.

On May 9, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will hold the first meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), for Pigment Violet 29 (PV29), the first chemical of the initial ten chemicals undergoing review, on June 18-21, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EDT) at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn at Key Bridge, Rosslyn Ballroom, 1900 North Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, Virginia.  84 Fed. Reg. 20354.  The meeting may also be available via webcast.

EPA states that the purpose of the SACC meeting is for EPA “to get the independent review of the science underlying the PV29 risk assessment, including the hazard assessment, assessment of dose-response, exposure assessment, and risk characterization.”  Additionally, this meeting will include an orientation on TSCA and how EPA is evaluating chemicals in commerce as prescribed in amended TSCA.  EPA states that it will use the scientific advice, information, and recommendations from the SACC, as well as public comments, to inform the final risk evaluation.  Comments are still being collected on the PV29 risk assessment until May 17, 2019, in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0604 on www.regulations.gov.

More information about the June SACC meeting and peer review of PV29 is available on EPA’s website.


 

By Christopher R. Bryant and Lynn L. Bergeson

According to press reports, Nancy Beck, Ph.D., DABT has been hired as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).  Dr. Beck holds a doctorate in environmental health from the University of Washington.  For the past five years she served as the Senior Director for Regulatory Science Policy at the American Chemistry Council (ACC).  For a decade prior to ACC, she was an analyst within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Despite Dr. Beck’s compelling credentials, the appointment has displeased some stakeholders.  Dr. Beck has been a staunch critic of how EPA conducts chemical risk assessments and its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).  President Trump is proposing to eliminate IRIS; it thus is unlikely that Dr. Beck would revive or rely upon it in implementing the recently revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Less than two months ago, Dr. Beck provided testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management calling for changes to EPA’s risk assessment processes. 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Charles M. Auer

On November 29, 2016,  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the initial ten chemical substances on which risk evaluations will be conducted under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6(b)(2)(A).  The chemicals, all of which were to be drawn from the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments, are:

1,4-dioxane
1-bromopropane
Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Carbon tetrachloride
Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
Methylene chloride
Pigment violet 29
Perchloroethylene (PERC)
N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP)
Asbestos

EPA is required under TSCA Section 6(b)(2)(A) to announce the chemicals within 180 days of enactment, or by December 19, 2016.

Interestingly, several of the chemicals are the subject of Section 6 rules that are currently undergoing review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  These include TCE, methylene chloride, and NMP.  Assuming that EPA continues with these rules (relying on the savings provision at TSCA Section 26(p)(3) to use the completed risk evaluations on these chemicals in taking the Section 6 actions), the inclusion of the chemicals on the list may suggest that EPA will broaden the risk evaluations to include other conditions of use beyond those in the completed risk assessments.

For more on the chemicals listed and additional information: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/evaluating-risk-existing-chemicals-under-tsca.