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EPA Orders Testing of Common Chemicals, Expands Toxics Reporting Rule

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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The Environmental Protection Agency continues to target chemical safety with a new rule that requires manufacturers of 19 widely used chemicals to test and report on their health and environmental effects.

The agency has also broadened the scope of its Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program by adding 16 chemicals, including some used in pigments and resins, to the required reporting list.

Testing Mandate

The agency’s new final rule, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), mandates that manufacturers of 19 high production volume (HPV) chemicals test the health and environmental effects of those chemicals and submit the data to the agency.

The rule is one of a series of actions that EPA is taking to ensure that it has sufficient data to review priority chemicals, the agency says. HPV chemicals are those with a production/import volume of at least 1 million pounds.

“This chemical data reporting will provide EPA with critical information to better evaluate any potential risks from these chemicals that are being produced in large quantities in this country,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“Having this information is essential to improve chemical safety and protect the health of the American people and the environment.”

From Dyes to Demolition

The chemicals affected by the rule have a wide variety of consumer and industrial applications.

For example, 9, 10-anthracenedione is used to manufacture dyes; C12-C24 chloroalkenes are used as metalworking fluids; pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) is a blasting and demolition agent; and leuco sulfur black is a fingerprinting agent. 

The rule follows the voluntary HPV Challenge Program Chemical List launched by EPA that included chemicals used in household products. The program challenged companies to make health and environmental effects data publicly available for HPV chemicals.

Companies voluntarily supplied data on more than 2,200 HPV chemicals under the program; however, no data were provided on the 19 chemicals in the new rule—making it necessary, EPA said, for it to require testing. In the coming year, EPA says it will require testing of other chemicals for which it has not received data.

TRI List Expands

EPA has also added 16 chemicals to the required reporting list for its Toxics Release Inventory. Each chemical has been classified as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

“EPA has concluded, based on a review of available studies, that these 16 chemicals could cause cancer in humans and therefore meet” the TRI reporting criteria, the agency said on its web site.

EPA estimates that 175 facilities will be affected by the rule, mainly those that manufacture basic organic chemicals, dyes, pigments, plastics and resins. The final rule is effective for the 2011 reporting year with the first reports due July 1, 2012. This is EPA’s first chemical expansion in the TRI program in more than a decade.

Lead Levels, Reporting Decline

The 2009 TRI analysis the most recent data available—includes data on about 650 chemicals from more than 20,000 facilities. In 2009, 3.37 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, a 12% decrease from 2008.

Total disposal of lead decreased by 18% from 2008 to 2009, according to EPA. However, the agency also noted a 7% decline in the number of facilities reporting to TRI, continuing a trend of several years. While some of the decline may be due to the recession, EPA says it will investigate why some facilities that reported in 2008 did not do so in 2009.
TRI was established in 1986 by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and later modified by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.  Together, these laws require facilities in certain industries to report annually on releases, disposal and other waste management activities related to these chemicals. 


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; Pigments; Primers; Resins; Toxicity

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