EPA Announces Chemical Reporting Updates
Late last week the Environmental Protection Agency released multiple announcements regarding toxic substances and chemicals.
The agency first released a list of 390 chemicals that are expected to lose their confidential status and move to the public portion of the Toxic Substances Control Act inventory.
It also announced a plan to update its Toxics Release Inventory, which includes expanding reporting requirements for certain chemicals and facilities, including PFAS.
The movement of 390 chemicals from confident to public is reportedly a move that aims to further the agency’s commitment to data transparency.
According to the EPA, the identities of these chemicals were reported as non-confidential during Chemical Data Reporting cycles from the 2012, 2016 and/or 2020 reporting periods. In accordance with the CDR rule and with TSCA sections 8 and 14, the EPA intends to update the TSCA Inventory listings for these chemicals to list the specific chemical identities on the public portion of the Inventory.
The EPA has published a list of the chemicals currently identifying them by their accession numbers.
The EPA notes that stakeholders with interest, questions or concerns about this change in confidential status may contact the EPA no later than May 14. The specific chemical identities of these 390 chemicals are expected to be included in the next routine publication of the public TSCA Inventory, anticipated in late summer.
The TRI moves also aim to improve transparency, as well as access to environmental information.
The plan includes expanding the scope of TRI reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities, including facilities that are not currently reporting on ethylene oxide (EtO, found commonly in sterilizers) releases, and providing new tools to make TRI data more accessible to the public.
“Every person in the United States has a right to know about what chemicals are released into their communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By requiring new and more data on chemical releases from facilities, EPA and its partners will be better equipped to protect the health of every individual, including people of color and low-income communities that are often located near these facilities but have been left out of the conversation for too long.”
The EPA is also planning to enhance the TRI tools themselves by including a demographic profile search option, launching a Spanish version of the TRI website and promoting the use of pollution prevention information.
Recent TSCA News
At the end of March, the EPA gave an update on its evaluation surrounding the policies, guidances, templates and regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The Agency said that it had identified several instances “where the approach for making determinations and managing risks associated with new chemicals can more closely align with the requirements of TSCA to ensure protections for human health and the environment, including the use of significant new use rules (SNURs) and assumptions related to worker exposures.”
The announcement stated that the EPA would stop issuing determinations of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” based on the existence of proposed SNURs.
“Rather than excluding reasonably foreseen conditions of use from EPA’s review of a new substance by means of a SNUR, Congress anticipated that EPA would review all conditions of use when making determinations on new chemicals and, where appropriate, issue orders to address potential risks. Going forward, when EPA’s review leads to a conclusion that one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, the agency will issue an order to address those potential risks,” the Agency noted.
EPA intends to continue issuing SNURs following TSCA section 5(e) and 5(f) orders for new chemicals to ensure the requirements imposed on the submitter via an order apply to any person who manufacturers or processes the chemical in the future.
In addition, though, EPA also intends to ensure necessary protections for workers identified in its review of new chemicals through regulatory means. When the EPA identifies a potential unreasonable risk to workers that could be addressed with appropriate personal protective equipment and hazard communication, it will no longer assume that workers are adequately protected under OSHA’s worker protection standards and updated Safety Data Sheets.
Instead, EPA will identify the absence of worker safeguards as “reasonably foreseen” conditions of use, and mandate necessary protections through a TSCA section 5(e) order, as appropriate.
This update followed a February announcement that the agency will be refining its approach to selections, reviews and evaluations of chemicals within the TSCA.
Recent PFAS Update
The PFAS update in terms of the TRI follows Regan’s announcement calling for the creation of a new EPA Council on PFAS. The council’s mission is to build the agency’s work to better understand and reduce the risks caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
Regan had asked Radhika Fox, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water, and Deb Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator in Region 1, to convene and lead the EPA Council on PFAS, which will be comprised of senior EPA career officials from across the agency.
The goals of the council date back to a 2019 action plan that was never realized. Directives include: