Web Date: March 6, 2012
EPA Targets Chemicals
Seven chemicals or categories of substances will undergo risk assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, EPA announced on March 1. The move could eventually lead to their regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
“If an assessment indicates significant risk, EPA will evaluate and pursue appropriate risk reduction actions, as warranted,” which include regulation, the agency says. “If an assessment indicates no significant risk, EPA will conclude its current work on that chemical.”
As justification for the assessments, the agency cited the substances’ potential to harm human health and widespread human exposure to them.
One of the seven chemicals is 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta-γ-2-benzopyran. Commonly called HHCB, this polycyclic musk is used as a fragrance in consumer products. Three more compounds are solvents: methylene chloride; N-methylpyrrolidone; and trichloroethylene.
In addition, EPA will conduct risk assessments of long-chain chlorinated paraffins and medium-chain chlorinated paraffins. Both types are used in industrial cutting fluids, commercial paints, adhesives, sealants, and caulks. In 2009, EPA targeted a related class of compounds—short-chain chlorinated paraffins—for possible regulation, saying that they are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. Under a legal settlement announced in February, the only U.S. manufacturer of short-chain chlorinated paraffins has ceased their production (C&EN, Feb. 13, page 11).
The final categories slated for EPA risk assessment this year are antimony and antimony compounds, which are used in a variety of commercial applications, such as flame retardants.
The seven chemicals or categories of substances are among 83 commercial chemicals EPA has selected for further review and potential regulation. The agency selected these chemicals because they can cause reproductive, developmental, or neurotoxic effects; are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic; are probable or known carcinogens; are used in children’s products; or are detected in biomonitoring programs.
In a statement, the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry group, said, “We are glad that the EPA continues to recognize the urgent need to prioritize chemicals for review under TSCA.”
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