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Chemical Regulation

EPA revises carbon tetrachloride assessment

Agency moves toward risk management for the high-priority chemical

by Britt E. Erickson
September 1, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 31

The US Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on a revised risk assessment for carbon tetrachloride. The updated assessment, released Aug. 29, reflects policy changes the agency implemented last year for high-priority chemicals that are already on the market.

Carbon tetrachloride is one of the first 10 chemicals the EPA is evaluating under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency finalized all 10 assessments under the administration of Donald J. Trump, but last year it announced that it would redo them to consider exposures from air and water and to no longer assume that workers always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

The EPA has been churning out the revised assessments this summer. The assessment for carbon tetrachloride follows those for 1-bromopropane, methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone, perchloroethylene, and trichloroethylene, all of which the agency released in July.

Overall, the new assessments do not change the EPA’s conclusions that each of the chemicals poses unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. The agency claims that it conducted the reviews to ensure that its assessments are based on science and legally defensible.

But lawyers who work closely with the chemical industry say the new assessments fail to meet those goals. “In each evaluation, EPA is using a systematic review method that fails to meet the scientific standards under TSCA,” the law firm Bergeson & Campbell writes in commentary published Aug. 30. In addition, “in making a baseline assumption of the absence of PPE, EPA made a decision that many believe ignores reasonably available information, in violation of TSCA,” the law firm says.



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