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EPA Releases List of High-Priority and Low-Priority Chemicals
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.

On March 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was releasing a list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process required by the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  New TSCA requires EPA to designate 20 chemicals as “high-priority” for subsequent risk evaluation and 20 chemicals as “low-priority,” meaning that risk evaluation is not warranted at this time.  The 20 high priority candidate chemicals include:

  • Seven chlorinated solvents;
  • Six phthalates;
  • Four flame retardants;
  • Formaldehyde (which has been studied by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program for many years);
  • A fragrance additive; and
  • A polymer pre-curser.

EPA is also currently determining whether to conduct a risk evaluation of two additional phthalates.  The 20 low priority candidate chemicals have been selected from EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, which includes chemicals that have been evaluated and determined to meet EPA's safer choice criteria. 

Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, stated that initiating a chemical for high or low prioritization “does not mean EPA has determined it poses unreasonable risk or no risk to human health or the environment,” however.  EPA states that is it releasing this list “to provide the public an opportunity to submit relevant information such as the uses, hazards, and exposure for these chemicals.”  EPA is scheduled to publish the notice regarding this list in the Federal Register on March 21, 2019.  The pre-publication notice is available here.  Comments will be due 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.  EPA is opening a docket for each of the 40 chemicals.  EPA is then directed to complete the prioritization process in the next nine to 12 months, allowing EPA to designate 20 chemicals as high priority and 20 chemicals as low priority. 

Please be on the lookout for our memorandum that will contain more information regarding EPA’s list.  It will be posted on our Regulatory Developments webpage.