EPA Identifies 40 Chemicals, Including Formaldehyde, to Prioritize for Risk Evaluation

Published March 21, 2019

Yesterday, EPA released a list of 40 chemicals to prioritize for risk evaluation under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA requires the agency to publish this list of chemicals to begin the prioritization process to determine if chemical substances are a high or low priority for risk evaluation. EPA has designated 20 “high-priority” chemicals for subsequent risk evaluation, and 20 more have been designated as “low priority,” which means that the agency has determined that risk evaluation is not warranted at this time. EPA’s high-priority candidates include formaldehyde, seven chlorinated solvents, six phthalates, four flame retardants, and a fragrance additive. Among the low-priority candidates identified by the agency are chemicals from EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, which includes chemicals that have been evaluated through the agency’s Safer Choice Program.

“Initiating a chemical for high or low prioritization does not mean EPA has determined it poses unreasonable risk or no risk to human health or the environment; it means we are beginning the prioritization process set forth in [the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act],” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. The Lautenberg Act, which was signed into law in June 2016, amended TSCA.

EPA has opened a docket for each of the 40 chemicals on the list so that the public has an opportunity to submit relevant information about the uses, hazards, and exposures for these chemicals. The comment period will close on June 19, 2019. The Federal Register notice provides information about submitting comments, including the specific docket number for each chemical.

When prioritization is complete, EPA will begin a three-year risk evaluation process for chemicals designated as high priority to determine if they present an “unreasonable risk to human health and the environment.”