January 27, 2022

EPA Drafts Approach to Assess Ambient Air, Water Exposures to Fenceline Communities

Last week, EPA published a proposed screening-level approach for assessing ambient air and water exposures for communities near industrial facilities. The draft approach is intended to be used to evaluate potential chemical exposures and associated risks to “fenceline communities” in risk evaluations conducted and published under amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation.

In its press release about the new draft methodology, EPA explains that the previous administration narrowed the scope of the first 10 TSCA risk evaluations so that they “generally did not assess air, water, or disposal exposures to the general population.” EPA announced the reversal of this policy in June, declaring its intent to expand its consideration of exposure pathways for the first 10 TSCA risk evaluations.

“The proposed screening-level methodology uses reasonably available data, information, and models to quantify environmental releases, evaluate exposures to fenceline communities, and characterize risks associated with such releases and exposures for certain air and water pathways previously not evaluated in published risk evaluations,” EPA explains.

EPA previously said it will reopen and update the risk evaluation for 1,4-dioxane to consider whether to include additional exposure pathways that were excluded from the supplemental and final risk evaluations. The agency intends to use the newly proposed screening-level approach to determine if six other chemicals that were among the first 10 EPA evaluated under TSCA—methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, perchloroethylene, NMP, and 1-bromopropane—present unreasonable risk to fenceline communities.

The proposed screening-level methodology will undergo peer review by the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals, a federal committee charged with providing scientific advice, information, and recommendations to EPA on chemicals regulated under TSCA legislation. Public comments will be accepted via the docket on Regulations.gov until Feb. 22.

For further details, see EPA’s press release.