EPA Proposes Rules for Prioritizing, Evaluating Chemicals

Published February 1, 2017

​In mid-January, EPA proposed three new rules to help administer a new process of prioritizing and evaluating chemicals under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law in June. The new chemical law requires EPA to evaluate chemicals that were grandfathered in when TSCA was first enacted 40 years ago. The recently proposed rules are intended to help the agency quickly evaluate chemicals currently in the marketplace.

“When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time,” EPA’s press release reads. “The old law failed to provide EPA with the tools to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced.”

EPA’s new proposed rules include an inventory rule, a prioritization rule, and a risk evaluation rule. The proposed inventory rule would require manufacturers and importers to notify EPA and the public of the number of chemical substances in EPA’s inventory that are still being produced. The inventory rule would help EPA designate chemical substances as “active” or “inactive” in U.S. commerce as required by the recent amendments to TSCA. EPA’s proposed prioritization rule would establish how the agency will prioritize chemicals for evaluation; according to its press release, the agency will use a risk-based screening process. Finally, with the risk evaluation rule, EPA is proposing to establish a process for conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a chemical substance presents an “unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, without consideration of costs or other non-risk factors.”

Comments on the proposed inventory rule are due by March 14, 2017. Comments on the proposed prioritization and risk evaluation rules are due by March 20. Learn more on EPA’s website.

A regulatory freeze issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary on Jan. 20 potentially affects these proposed rules and other regulations related to occupational and environmental health and safety. More information is available from the industry news section of AIHA’s website.