By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft risk evaluation of perchloroethylene. Perchloroethylene is the last of the first ten chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, bystanders, and the environment from certain uses. EPA states that the primary health risk identified in the draft risk evaluation is neurological effects from short- and long-term exposure to perchloroethylene. The risk to consumers from perchloroethylene’s use in dry cleaning is from skin exposure to items cleaned with perchloroethylene. EPA notes that it also found environmental risks to aquatic organisms.
EPA will use feedback received from the peer review and public comment process to inform the final risk evaluation and will provide “frequent updates” on its progress throughout the process. EPA notes that if its final risk evaluation finds there are unreasonable risks associated with perchloroethylene under the specific conditions of use, EPA will propose actions to address those risks within the time frame required by TSCA. EPA’s actions could include proposed regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of perchloroethylene, as applicable.
EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluation, beginning a 60-day comment period. EPA will also hold a virtual peer review meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on the draft risk evaluation May 26-29, 2020. The virtual peer review meeting is open to the public to attend and provide comments.