February 9, 2021 / Kay Bechtold

The Monthly Weekly: This Winter, a Flurry of EPA Activity

Pictured: EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: The Monthly Weekly is an occasional feature that reviews the previous month’s news coverage from The Synergist Weekly newsletter.

Rules and risk evaluations top EPA’s list of announcements this winter, and traffic to AIHA’s website shows that the agency’s recent news has been of increased interest to professionals in the fields of industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety. EPA’s most significant milestone in the last few months was likely the completion of the risk evaluation process for the first 10 chemicals selected to undergo risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Here, SynergistNOW highlights this and other recent developments from EPA.

Final risk evaluations. With the release of the final risk evaluation for pigment violet 29 (PV29) on Jan. 14, EPA completed the process for the first 10 chemicals selected to undergo risk evaluation under TSCA. These chemicals were announced in late 2016 and include PV29 as well as 1,4-dioxane, 1-bromopropane, chrysotile asbestos, carbon tetrachloride, cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD), methylene chloride, n-methylpyrrolidone, perchloroethylene, and trichloroethylene. As amended by the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, TSCA requires EPA to “evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines.” More information about chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under TSCA can be found on EPA’s website.

Clearance levels for lead in dust. In early January, EPA finalized a rule to lower the clearance levels for the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors and windowsills in buildings after lead abatement has taken place. The agency’s action lowers the clearance levels for lead in dust following abatement activities from 40 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on windowsills. The new rule is set to go into effect on March 8, 2021. For additional perspective, read Derek Popp and Kenneth T. White’s article in the September 2020 issue of The Synergist.

Collaboration with OSHA. EPA and OSHA announced on Jan. 12 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that describes the agencies’ agreement to work together to protect workers who may be exposed to new chemical substances, as defined by TSCA. The MOU (PDF) provides guidelines for communication between EPA and OSHA related to TSCA Section 5, which outlines what EPA must do when a new chemical notice is submitted. The agreement is also intended to ensure that OSHA is provided with regular updates on EPA’s new chemical determinations, including any necessary worker protection identified during agency review.

Persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals. Five final rules issued by EPA and published in the Federal Register in early January are intended to reduce exposures to five chemicals considered to be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT). The rules limit or prohibit the manufacture, processing, and commercial distribution for decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE); phenol, isoproylated phosphate (PIP 3:1); 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl) phenol (2,4,6-TTBP); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD); and pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP). These rules went into effect on Feb. 5.

An update from EPA dated Feb. 5 states that certain chemical safety actions identified by the Biden-Harris Administration—including the agency’s PBT final rules, final rule on dust-lead clearance levels, and risk evaluations for the first 10 chemicals—“will undergo review (and, as necessary, revisions) to ensure they are protective of human health and the environment.”

“This review is being done in accordance with the Administration’s Executive Orders and other directives, including those on environmental justice, scientific integrity, and regulatory review,” EPA’s update explains.

EPA intends to keep stakeholders informed during the review process, and the Synergist team will also work to keep readers up to date on chemical safety issues.

What news coverage is most helpful to you? Let us know in the comments or send an email to The Synergist.

Kay Bechtold

Kay Bechtold is the managing editor of The Synergist.


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