By Lynn L. Bergeson
On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would be taking expedited action on reducing exposures to the following persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBT). As stated in our blog item Deadline for Requesting Risk Evaluation for PBT Chemicals Fast Approaching, Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 20th Century Act, outlines a procedure requiring “expedited” regulatory action that is intended to reduce exposures to these chemicals to the “extent practicable.” Instead of conducting a standard risk evaluation, EPA immediately will proceed to assess and identify appropriate risk management actions for these chemicals:
- Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics and polyurethane foam;
- Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used in the manufacture of rubber compounds and lubricants and as a solvent;
- Pentachlorothio-phenol (PCTP), used as an agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
- Tris (4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate, used as a flame retardant in consumer products and other industrial uses; and
- 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol, used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive.
Manufacturers were given until September 19, 2016, to request that EPA conduct a risk evaluation prior to risk management decisions on any of the PBT chemicals listed on EPA’s 2014 Work Plan; EPA states that requests for risk evaluations were made for two chemicals that can be used in fragrance mixtures, but for the remaining PBT chemicals, “it must move ahead to take expedited action to reduce exposure those chemicals.” The two requests were made for:
- Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,5,5-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl); and
- Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,8,8-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl.
As a result of the requests, EPA has excluded these two chemicals from the expedited action requirements under Section 6(h). The statutory deadline for EPA to propose action is June 22, 2019. More information on these PBTs and EPA’s implementation of the amended TSCA can be found on our blog under keyword: PBTs.
By Zameer Qureshi
On October 4, 2016, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) hosted its fourth and final webinar in its series of webinars on the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in collaboration with Chemical Watch. The webinar addressed numerous important issues for a wide array of stakeholders. The webinar was moderated by Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner at B&C, and the expert panel included Charles M. Auer, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Lisa R. Burchi, and Sheryl L. Dolan.
Mr. Auer, Senior Regulatory and Policy Advisor at B&C, addressed “Administration of the Act” and described important changes between old and new TSCA. Mr. Auer’s presentation consisted of three segments: (1) “Section 26 Science Requirements”; (2) “Section 26 Information and Guidance”; and (3) “Section 26 ‘Savings’ Provision.”
Mr. Auer addressed the “Scientific Standards” requirements of new TSCA Section 26(h), the “Weight of Scientific Evidence” requirements of Section 26(i), and the Section 26(o) provisions of new TSCA relating to Consultation with the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC). Mr. Auer addressed a number of additional rules and requirements in Section 26, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) obligation to submit a report to Congress and issue an Annual Plan under Sections 26(m)-(n).
Ms. Burchi, Of Counsel at B&C, discussed “Preemption” under Section 18 of new TSCA. Ms. Burchi described preemption as “one of the most debated subjects in [the TSCA reform] debate” and stated that she had heard it referred to as a “linchpin” in terms of reaching agreement on provisions for TSCA reform to occur. Ms. Burchi stated “Everything in the new Section 18 is new or very significantly changed from what we were used to with regard to preemption … The final provisions are fairly complicated … It will remain to be seen whether states continue to act with regard to chemical substances in the way that they have been.”
Ms. Burchi addressed the three “main” provisions related to preemption under new TSCA Sections 18(a)(1)(A)-(C), and analyzed more specific issues (e.g., pause preemption) and the related exceptions. Ms. Burchi described the TSCA Section 18(d)-(e) provisions relating to “Exceptions” and “Preservation of Certain Laws.” Ms. Burchi also addressed new TSCA’s Section 18(f) “Waivers” provisions and concluded her segment of the presentation with the following statement: “It remains to be seen whether states are going to be jumping in to [take action] when EPA has already identified a chemical for prioritization and review … [There will be some interesting provisions and interplay] to be seen as we move forward under new TSCA.”
Ms. Dolan, Senior Regulatory Consultant at B&C, analyzed “Fees” under new TSCA and addressed EPA’s obligations to: (1) set lower fees for small business concerns; (2) consider balance between manufacturers and processors; and (3) consult with the regulated community. Ms. Dolan stated “new TSCA directs EPA to review its fee program on a three-year cycle and revise it as needed to raise the target fees … While new TSCA did not set a deadline for developing the fees program, it really didn’t have to -- EPA, of course, has every incentive to knock this rulemaking out quickly.”
Ms. Dolan indicated that a final rule is expected on fees under new TSCA by June 2017, and provided an overview of comments received on the proposed rule. Ms. Dolan stated that “overarching themes” in the comments included that: (1) fees should be tied to the level of required effort; (2) fees should encourage innovation; and (3) fees should not be overly complex or difficult to administer. In relation to (3), Ms. Dolan quoted a commenter that stated “don’t give us the [Internal Revenue Service (IRS)] Code.”
Ms. Dolan stated “everyone seems to want to know how much will a [pre-manufacture notice (PMN)] cost in the future … I think the answer to that [will come with a big red bow] in December. Specifically, EPA states that it will send a proposal to [the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)] in mid-October … EPA may well set a comment period of at least 60 days for this proposed rule.”
Dr. Engler, Senior Chemist at B&C, discussed Sustainable Chemistry (i.e., Green Chemistry) under new TSCA. Dr. Engler stated “new TSCA is largely silent on sustainability” and indicated that the “primary benefit” to Sustainable Chemistry under new TSCA is the abbreviated review period when EPA determines that a new chemical is “not likely to present” an unreasonable risk (i.e., 90-day period waived and manufacturers can commence manufacturing immediately). Dr. Engler addressed chemicals that EPA considers to present low hazard for health and ecotoxicity (“low/low” chemicals) and stated that new TSCA could be “more of a driver for Sustainable Chemistry,” if only low/low chemicals escape regulation.
Dr. Engler addressed “Relative Risk under New TSCA” and EPA’s “Safer Choice Program” (SCP). Dr. Engler discussed the Senate Report on S. 697, which suggested that EPA should consider “private sector voluntary consensus standards as an alternative” to SCP. Dr. Engler indicated that as the relevant section of the Senate report concerns Section 23, the Sustainable Chemistry Section that was not included in the enacted new TSCA, it is unclear how it applies to new TSCA as enacted. Dr. Engler stated that EPA is proceeding with SCP and hosting a summit in November on this topic.
The webinar concluded with a Questions and Discussion (Q&D) session, and B&C’s expert panel provided useful answers and analyses in response to attendees’ questions. Ms. Bergeson moderated the Q&D session, which was organized by topic.
In the Q&D session, Ms. Bergeson stated and asked Ms. Dolan: “Fees are super important … [small businesses and startups] might have a hard time mustering any type of financial liquidity to get their notifications through the gauntlet of EPA -- so how would you expect EPA to be defining lower fees for purposes of small business provision?”
Ms. Dolan responded by stating “[currently, the ratio is $2,500 and $100 for small businesses. I would imagine there will be some kind of comparable proportionality and currently there are other submissions (e.g., Low Volume Exemptions) that don’t require any fees. EPA has got to raise the money somewhere -- the more they put it on something else or the more they try to avoid charging fees for things, the more it’s going to jack up the cost and other things. I would imagine that they are going to charge something for everything. Whether they maintain that proportionality of 100:2500 remains to be seen. Another consideration is what constitutes a small business. There is a lot of conversation about that and the fact that definition hasn’t been updated in quite a while … This might be something that is the focus of a lot of attention in the proposed rule.]”
Ms. Bergeson drew on Mr. Auer’s extensive experience with EPA on several occasions during the Q&D session, starting questions with “If you were back at EPA,” and Mr. Auer’s responses were comprehensive. Dr. Engler responded to questions regarding Green Chemistry and discussed Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) substances under new TSCA, and Ms. Burchi answered questions on California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulation (SCPR) and preemption under new TSCA.
More information on TSCA reform and B&C’s “The New TSCA: What You Need to Know” webinar series is available online.
By Charles M. Auer and Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D.
On September 21, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) announced its regulatory determinations for a batch of Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN) and premanufacture notices (PMN).
The announcement by EPA consisted of ten new microorganisms submitted as MCANs and seven new chemicals submitted as PMNs. All microorganisms and chemical substances were determined “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” (per Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5(a)(3)(C)). This determination was based in all cases on the low hazard of the microorganism or the chemical substance. The microorganisms and chemical substances are:
- J-16-0010: Generic: Saccharomyces cerevisiae modified;
- J-16-0011, J-16-0012, J-16-0013, J-16-0014, J-16-0015, and J-16-0016: Generic: Biofuel Producing Organism;
- J-16-0017: Generic: Saccharomyces cerevisiae modified;
- J-16-0018: Generic: Saccharomyces cerevisiae modified; and
- J-16-0006: Generic: Trichoderma reesei modified.
- P-16-0343 and P-16-0344: Generic: Modified urethane polymer;
- P-16-0391: Generic: Polyester polyol polymer with aliphatic isocyanate and phenol derivates;
- P-16-0366: Generic: Blocked polyisocyanate;
- P-16-0373: Generic: Tris(alkyloxyphenyl)triazine compounds;
- P-16-0466: Generic: 2,5-Furandione, telomer with ethenylbenzene and (alkylethyl)benzene, amides with polyethylene-polypropylene glycol aminoalkyl Me ether, alkali salts; and
- P-16-0348: Generic: Polypentaerythritol, mixed esters with linear and branched monoacids.
In both types of submissions, the EPA reports are facilitated by the use of templates. The footnotes in the template describe the approach and methodology followed to identify uses and to determine persistence, bioaccumulation, human health hazard, and environmental hazard.
The MCAN template includes three footnotes that describe: (1) identification of “known” and “reasonably foreseen” uses; (2) criteria for human health hazard; and (3) criteria for ecological hazard.
The PMN template includes seven footnotes that describe: (1) identification of “known” and “reasonably foreseen” uses; (2) criteria for persistence; (3) criteria for bioaccumulation; (4) criteria for human health hazard ranking; (5) criteria for ecological hazard ranking; (6) link to the TSCA New Chemicals Program Chemical Categories; and (7) link to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2014 Guidance on Grouping of Chemicals. The OECD link and a link to the Sustainable Futures Manual within footnote 5 are obsolete.
The ecological hazard ranking criteria are consistent with OPPT’s past practice. The human health ranking criteria departs from practice by using a single descriptor for all endpoints. Other approaches that EPA has used for several years utilize criteria that address specific end points. Examples include the ChAMP (Chemical Assessment and Management Program) Methodology and the section 8(e) program.
For the MCANs, the “unlikely to present” determination is based on the human health hazard criteria identified in the template for human health hazard: “a microorganism is considered to have low human health hazard if it is not known to be a frank human pathogen that causes disease in healthy adults, and/or animal studies have demonstrated a lack of pathogenicity or toxicity”; and “a microorganism is considered to be of low ecological hazard if it is not known to be an animal or plant pathogen, and the genetic modifications do not impart pathogenic or toxigenic traits, and the introduced genetic material does not provide a selective growth advantage in outcompeting indigenous microbial communities in the environment.”
For the chemical substances, estimates indicated that the majority of these chemicals were persistent or very persistent and bioaccumulation potential was low for all chemicals. Human health hazard was determined by using a combination of physicochemical properties and structural analogs. Ecological hazard determinations utilized analog information and, as appropriate, estimates made by the Ecological Structure Activity Relationships (ECOSAR) Class Program. Exposure estimates were not conducted based of the low hazard concern from which followed the “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” determination.
The September 2016 issue of the Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know Committee Newsletter is now available. This newsletter is prepared by the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, and edited by Lynn L. Bergeson. Several professionals from Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) contributed articles to this issue of the newsletter.
Articles in this special edition of the September 2016 issue are exclusively focused on Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform. The articles include:
- From the Chair;
- From the Editor;
- New TSCA and EPA's Enhanced Testing Authority;
- New Chemicals under New TSCA;
- Is the Section 5 Review Period Fixed or Flexible in New TSCA?;
- New TSCA -- Existing Substances;
- Implementing the 2016 TSCA Amendments;
- 2017 “Reset” of New TSCA Inventory Will Affect All Chemical Users, Not Just Manufacturers;
- Changes Regarding Confidential Information in New TSCA;
- Preemption under New TSCA;
- New Fees Provisions in New TSCA;
- Weight of Evidence in New TSCA;
- PBT Actions under New TSCA; and
- New TSCA and “Articles.”
On September 19, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted a notice on the Chemical Data Reporting website that it has amended the CDR regulations to extend the 2016 submission deadline from September 30, 2016, to October 31, 2016. According to the pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice for the final rulemaking, EPA received a request for an extension, citing problems with certain aspects of the electronic reporting system that impact a business’s ability to submit within the required timeframe, and agreed that additional time should be afforded. EPA clearly states, however, that the extension is a one-time extension for the 2016 reporting period only. The action does not impact the reporting timeframe for the 2020 CDR.
Because the original reporting deadline of September 30, 2016, was imminent, EPA will utilize discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act that allows it to issue a final rule if standard public review and comments are impracticable (Section 553(b)(3)(B)) and for “good cause” (Section 553(d)).
The rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.
By Sheryl L. Dolan and Kathleen M. Roberts
In anticipation of the second meeting, EPA shared its general observations as to a way forward for fee assessment under TSCA Sections 4, 5, 6, and 14 and some of EPA’s key take aways from the comments submitted to the docket. In its meeting presentation, EPA outlined its estimated annual costs by 2019 (i.e., once the Section 6 risk evaluation schedule is ramped up). While no specific fee proposals emerged from the meeting discussions, the following information was discussed, which provides some insight into EPA’s ongoing process:
- EPA’s projected annual cost for implementing TSCA Sections 4, 5, 6 and 14 includes both direct and indirect/overhead costs, with a 22.75 percent adjustment to cover overhead, consistent with EPA’s overall budget practice.
- In estimating the anticipated number of Section 5 submissions, EPA stated that based on industry comments regarding the effect of fees, it assumed a 30 percent reduction from recent years. EPA essentially stated that 30 percent is an educated guess, noting that Notices of Commencement (NOC) are only filed on approximately 50 percent of premanufacture notices (PMN).
- EPA stated that, consistent with industry’s comments, it most likely will not propose to charge separately for individual confidential business information (CBI) claims, but instead will incorporate that into overhead costs.
- EPA stated that it is implementing a time accounting system, which may support future refinements of its cost estimates; EPA is required to review its fee program every three years under TSCA Section 26(b)(4)(F).
- EPA stated that it is pursuing consultation with the Small Business Administration regarding revisiting the applicable definition of a small business concern. While clarifying that this is not a proposal, EPA noted that if the producer price index is applied to the small business concern definition in 40 C.F.R. § 700.43, the $40 million revenue cap in the definition would increase to $91 million. As reflected in the circulated spreadsheet, EPA plans to propose reduced fees for small businesses as required by TSCA Section 26(b)(4)(A). EPA also stated that approximately 14 percent of TSCA submissions are made by small businesses.
- Section 6 risk evaluation fees remain one of the greater uncertainties. During the September 13, 2016, meeting, suggestions were made that these fees should be assessed incrementally, perhaps tied to milestones, with a schedule that perhaps could allow tying the fees to actual costs. In response, EPA noted that OMB requirements preclude federal agencies from seeking fees in reimbursement for completed activities.
Based on its projected costs, EPA will seek to raise the $25 million annual maximum allowed by new TSCA. Regardless of how these costs are distributed among Sections 4, 5, and 6 (assuming EPA’s proposal does not separately charge for Section 14 activities), it is clear that the proposed rule will be a significant change from the $2,500 PMN fee in place since the 1980’s.
ChemCon The Americas is a global chemical control conference offering authoritative speakers, in-depth sessions, and a global perspective on existing and emerging chemical regulatory schemes. ChemCon The Americas 2016 will be held October 17 - 21, 2016, in Toronto, Canada.
Highlights from the diverse and substantive program planned for Toronto include:
- Workshop on the modernized Toxic Substances Control Act, with speakers including Jeff Morris, Deputy Director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), and Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C®, and President, Acta®, Monday, October 17, 2016
- Chemical control legislation in Middle and South America, with speakers including Alberto da Rocha Neto, Ministry of Environment of Brazil, and Michael S. Wenk, M.S., Senior Regulatory Consultant, B&C and Acta, Tuesday, October 18, 2016
- Update on regulatory issues in Asia with speakers including J. Brian Xu, M.D., Ph.D., DABT®, Toxicologist, B&C and Acta, Friday, October 21, 2016
The full ChemCon agenda is available online. A video overview of the ChemCon experience -- the sessions, exhibition, and networking and socializing opportunities -- is available on ChemCon’s YouTube channel. For more information and to register, visit the ChemCon The Americas 2016 website.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
The topics from Section 8 of TSCA, regarding reporting and retention of information, included: Small Manufacturer Definition; Reporting by Processors; Inorganic Byproduct Rulemaking and Reporting; TSCA Inventory; and Nomenclature. The key points from this portion included:
- The sales thresholds for small manufacturers are likely to rise from the current level that was set in 1986;
- TSCA Inventory “reset” will require companies to report for substances manufactured or imported in the last 10 years and there will be no exemptions for polymers or low volume substances;
- EPA may impose different requirements for CDR reporting by manufacturers and processors;
- EPA must enter into negotiated rulemaking to reduce CDR reporting for recycling and reprocessing inorganic byproducts; and
- Interested parties should be aware of rulemaking on these issues as well as rules that EPA will be promulgating to implement other sections of TSCA.
The topics from Section 14 of TSCA, regarding CBI, included: Information Not Protected; Asserting CBI; Presumptive CBI; Requirements for CBI Claims; Exemptions to Protection from Disclosure; Review and Resubstantiation; Duties of Administrator; and Criminal Penalties. The key points from this portion included:
- Most CBI claims made prior to enactment of TSCA reform will not require substantiation, but claims going forward, including chemical identity for substances notified as “active” on the TSCA Inventory will require substantiation;
- EPA must review all CBI claims for chemical identity;
- CBI protection that requires substantiation will sunset after ten years; claimants may reassert and resubstantiate claims to continue protection for another ten year period;
- EPA must disclose CBI upon request from state, municipal, and tribal officials who demonstrate the need for the information and agree to protect CBI;
- EPA must also disclose CBI upon request from medical professionals if it is reasonable to believe the information is necessary to treat a patient; and
- In most cases, EPA will notify CBI claimants prior to disclosing CBI to persons that are not federal employees or federal contractors.
The panel speakers were, from B&C: Charles M. Auer, Senior Regulatory and Policy Advisor, former Director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner; Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Senior Chemist, former senior staff scientist in OPPT and leader of EPA's Green Chemistry Program; and Kathleen M. Roberts, Vice President, B&C Consortia Management, L.L.C.; and from Chemical Watch: Kelly Franklin, North America Reporter & Editor.
The fourth and final webinar in the series, “Other Provisions -- PBTs, Preemption, and Green/Sustainable Chemistry” will be presented on September 27, 2016.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
On September 2, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released additional guidance on its implementation of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the form of additional questions and answers (Q&A). EPA added a series of Q&As of particular relevance given the fast-approaching TSCA Section 6(h) deadline of September 19, 2016, for industry to request a risk evaluation for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals listed in the 2014 TSCA Work Plan. Section 6(h) outlines a procedure requiring “expedited” regulatory action that is intended to reduce exposures to these chemicals to the “extent practicable.” As written, chemicals subject to Section 6(h) will not undergo a risk evaluation as with other high-priority chemicals. Instead, EPA will proceed immediately to assess and identify appropriate risk management actions for these chemicals that EPA believes achieves the goal of reduced exposure to the “extent practicable.” EPA is required under new TSCA to issue the proposed risk management rules by June 2019, three years from enactment of new TSCA, and issue the final rules six months thereafter.
As we noted in an earlier blog, this deadline poses ups and downs. On the one hand, absent a risk evaluation, fast tracking the process necessarily invites worst-case assumptions and a high degree of probability that regulatory actions will be extensive. On the other hand, in the absence of a defined risk evaluation process and a yet-to-be-defined fee assessment process or schedule, volunteers may be few and far between. Understandably, a potential requester can be expected to want to know what the risk evaluation cost will be before making a commitment to pay that amount. Even with these uncertainties, under some circumstances the election may be worth considering and stakeholders are urged to consider the risks and benefits quickly, as September 19 is only days away.
EPA’s new Q&As pertinent to PBTs relate to:
Interestingly, EPA’s Q&As address some, but not all, questions. Careful review of the questions and EPA’s answers is advised. In short:
- There are seven substances on the Work Plan list that are PBTs;
- There is no formal request form; all that is required is the substance and company identity, along with the contact information of the requesting official;
- Entities requesting the assessment are disallowed from defining the scope and EPA intends to “evaluate the chemical substance in accordance with TSCA section 6(b)” regardless of a more narrowly defined set of uses of interest to the submitter;
- The submitter will be expected to pay for the full assessment; and
- The request is irrevocable and cannot be withdrawn.
While EPA’s interpretation comes as no surprise, reasonable people are likely to disagree as to whether the law must be read as EPA reads it. EPA may find more willing sponsors if, for example, the fee is limited to cover the scope of nominated uses. EPA could evaluate a broader scope, but the additional expense would not be entirely borne by the nominating company.
The American Chemical Society (ACS), together with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) and Honorary Co-Hosts Representatives Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), through ACS’ Science & the Congress Project have announced that they will be hosting a panel on “Alternatives to Animal Testing: Emerging Uses and Policy Implications” on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, from Noon - 1:30 p.m. on Capitol Hill at the Cannon House Office Building in Room 340. The panel will cover new and evolving non-animal based technologies and science that are being used to advance toxicology and safety testing and improve prospects in biomedical research, and will discuss how to robustly develop and incentivize adoption of these new methods, followed by an audience Q&A. Lunch will be provided. The moderator and panelists include:
- Pamela Frasch, J.D., Lewis & Clark Law School (Moderator);
- Warren Casey, Ph.D., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program;
- Amy Clippinger, Ph.D., PETA International Science Consortium Ltd.;
- Paul A. Locke, J.D., Dr. P.H., JHSPH;
- Pamela J. Spencer, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., Scientific Director of Toxicology and Environmental Research & Consulting, The Dow Chemical Company.
Registration for the panel is available online.