21 Oct 2016
EPA Announces Expedited Action under New Law to Reduce Exposure to Five Toxic Chemicals
The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to take expedited action under the recently-enacted Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety of the 21st Century Act to reduce exposure by the U.S. population to the following five persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) 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;
- pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP), used as an agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
- tris (4isopropylphenyl) phosphate, used as a flame retardant in consumer products and other industrial uses; and
- 2,4,6tris(tertbutyl)phenol, used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive.
The new law gave manufacturers an opportunity to request by 19 September that the EPA conduct risk evaluations for the PBT chemicals on the agency’s 2014 work plan as an alternative to expedited action. Requests for risk evaluations were made for two chemicals that can be used in fragrance mixtures. For the remaining PBT chemicals, the EPA must take expedited action to reduce exposure to those chemicals to the extent practicable. After the agency finishes identifying where these chemicals are used and how people are exposed to them it will move directly to propose limitations on their use. The statutory deadline for the EPA to propose action is 22 June 2019.
The EPA notes that PBT chemicals are of particular concern because they remain in the environment for significant periods of time and concentrate in the organisms exposed to them. These pollutants can transfer among air, water and land and span boundaries of geography and generations. According to EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Jones, the new law “directs us to expedite action to reduce risks for these chemicals, rather than spending more time evaluating them.” Jones added that the EPA is “working to ensure the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act signed in June of this year delivers on the promise of better protecting the environment and public health as quickly as possible.”