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EPA Names First Ten Chemicals for Review under TSCA Reform Legislation

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on 29 November the first ten chemicals it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under legislation reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, which represented the first significant overhaul of this statute since its enactment 40 years ago. The chemicals under review are 1,4-dioxane; 1-bromopropane; asbestos; carbon tetrachloride; cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster; methylene chloride; n-methylpyrrolidone; pigment violet 29; tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene); and trichloroethylene. Specific information on each chemical is provided below.

Chemical NameHazard Criteria MetHazard ScoreExposure Criteria MetExposure ScoreExamples of Uses
1,4-DioxanePossible human carcinogenHighWidely used in consumer products. Present in groundwater, ambient air and indoor environments. High reported releases to the environment.HighDyes, varnishes, waxes, impurity in some industrial and consumer products
1-Bromopropane (also known as n-propyl bromide)Possible human carcinogenHighWidely used in consumer products. Present in drinking water, indoor environments, surface water, ambient air, groundwater and soil. Estimated to have high releases to the environment.HighVapour degreasing, aerosol adhesives, foam cushions, dry cleaning
AsbestosKnown human carcinogen. Acute and chronic toxicity from inhalation exposures.HighWidely used in consumer products. Present in indoor environments.HighInsulation, brake pads, chlor-alkali industry
Carbon tetrachlorideProbable human carcinogenHighUsed in commercial and industrial products. Present in biomonitoring, drinking water, indoor environments, surface water, ambient air, groundwater and soil. High reported releases to the environment.HighChemical intermediate, solvent for commercial and industrial uses
Cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD)Acute aquatic toxicityHighFlame retardant in extruded polystyrene foam, textiles, and electrical and electronic appliancesHighFlame retardant used in foam, textiles and electronics
Methylene chloride (DCM or MC)Probable human carcinogenHighWidely used in consumer products. Present in drinking water, indoor environments, ambient air, groundwater and soil. High reported releases to the environment.HighPaint and coating removal products, automotive products, spray paint and adhesives
N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP)Reproductive toxicityHighWidely used in consumer products. Present in drinking water and indoor environments. High reported releases to the environment.HighPaint and coating removal products, cleaning agent, chemical intermediate
Pigment violet 29Aquatic toxicityHighWidely used in consumer products. Estimated to have moderate releases to the environment.HighDye used in coatings and plastics
Tetrachloroethylene (TCE)Known human carcinogenHighWidely used in consumer products. Present in drinking water, indoor environments, surface water, ambient air, groundwater and soil.HighDry cleaning and consumer, commercial and industrial degreasers
Trichloroethylene (PERC)Probable human carcinogenHighWidely used in consumer products. Present in biomonitoring, drinking water, indoor environments, ambient air, groundwater and soil. High reported releases to the environment.HighDry cleaning, metals degreasing, spot removers, wood cleaners and shoe polish


The EPA states that within three years from the date this list is published in the Federal Register it must complete risk evaluations for these chemicals, which will determine whether they present an unreasonable risk to humans and the environment. The EPA will then have another two years to mitigate any such risk; e.g., through labelling requirements, use restrictions or outright bans. The agency must release a scoping document within six months for each chemical setting forth the hazard(s), exposure(s), conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible sub-population(s) the agency plans to consider for the evaluation.

The EPA indicates that additional chemicals will be designated for evaluation and that all of the remaining 80 chemicals on the 2014 update to the TSCA work plan will be reviewed for their potential hazard and exposure. For each risk evaluation that the EPA completes TSCA requires that the agency begin another. By the end of 2019, the EPA must have at least 20 chemical risk valuations on-going at any given time.

The American Chemistry Council cautioned in 29 November press release that inclusion in the first group of ten chemicals “does not in and of itself indicate anything about the safety of the chemical.” According to the industry association, a chemical’s listing simply represents an acknowledgement by the agency that it plans to conduct risk evaluations on these ten chemicals before others. The ACC stresses that under the new law the EPA must consider a chemical’s conditions of use and hazard and exposure potential and must base its evaluation on the highest quality, most relevant scientific data as well as on the weight of the scientific evidence.

Meanwhile, environmental health group Safer States indicated that individual U.S. states still have the authority to act on any chemical that is not yet undergoing the EPA process. That group believes that a number of states are likely to address toxic chemicals from the EPA’s backlog in 2017. States can also help gather the information that the EPA will need to determine where, when and in what quantity people are exposed.

As previously reported, the TSCA reform legislation that was enacted into law earlier this year imposes a number of new responsibilities on the EPA subject to comparatively short deadlines. Among other things, the new law provides the EPA the tools to ensure chemicals in commerce are safer for consumers, creates a new system for the agency to evaluate and manage risks associated with chemicals already on the market, and sets deadlines for the EPA to take action by requiring risk evaluations to be completed within three years and risk management rules to follow completion of risk evaluations by 90 days.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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