NCHR Comment to EPA Regarding Risk Evaluation Scoping Effort Under TSCA for Ten Chemical Substances

Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460-0001

National Center for Health Research’s Public Comment on
Risk Evaluation Scoping Efforts Under TSCA for Ten Chemical Substances
[Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0002 and FRL-9959-36]

The National Center for Health Research is a nonprofit think tank that conducts, analyzes, and scrutinizes research, policies, and programs on a range of issues related to health.  We do not accept funding from companies that make products that are the subject of our work.

We are providing general comments relevant to 10 chemicals: 1,4-Dioxane, 1-Bromopropane, Asbestos, Carbon Tetrachloride, Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (Hexabromocyclododecane or HBCD), Methylene Chloride, N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP), Pigment Violet 29 (Anthra[2,1,9-def:6,5,10-d’e’f]diisoquinoline-1,3,8,10(2H,9H)- tetrone), Trichloroethylene (TCE), Tetrachloroethylene (also known as Perchloroethylene).

We strongly support efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve chemical review, as required by the 2016 Frank H. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. These first 10 chemical evaluations will set a precedent for future evaluations under this law. Therefore, it is imperative that the EPA adequately and appropriately evaluate these chemicals using sufficient, high quality information on harms, exposure, and conditions of use to evaluate the risks these chemicals pose to health.

The EPA must continue to improve efforts to thoroughly evaluate new chemicals and oppose industry’s unnecessary and inappropriate attempts to weaken those evaluations.  We understand that industry is primarily focused on reducing the burdens of regulations, especially when those regulations require collection of more information about their product.  However, it is clear that chemicals are harming the health of children and adults in America; reducing those risks must take precedence, as the law mandates.

The scope of evaluations should consider the lifecycle of the chemical, including its manufacture, use, and disposal. If the EPA allows the evaluation to ignore certain aspects of the lifecycle, it will miss exposures and harms caused by the chemical. This should also include instances where the chemical remains as an impurity in a product or byproduct of its manufacture, because these also lead to potentially dangerous exposures.

The scope should include a comprehensive evaluation of uses, whether they are specifically intended by the company or just reasonably foreseen. Many users do not follow every safety precaution included in labeling instructions or on Material Safety Data Sheets. Others may try to follow all safety advice, but due to conditions under which they work, they are still exposed more than would be estimated under ideal conditions.  Therefore, limiting exposure evaluations to uses and conditions specifically written on a label inevitably will underestimate exposure, sometimes dramatically.

The scope should also include identification of vulnerable populations, from 1) increased exposure due to working in the production, use, or disposal of the chemical; 2) exposure during developmentally sensitive periods; or 3) exposure due to living in the vicinity where the chemical is produced, used, or disposed.

Because individuals may be in contact with a chemical from multiple uses, pathways of exposure, or aspects of its lifecycle, a comprehensive evaluation must include an aggregation of exposures and risks.

Although these chemicals have been on the U.S. market for years or decades, there is still information about risks and exposures that remain unknown. The EPA should require the collection of this data as soon as possible in order to make adequate evaluations of these chemicals.

The Frank H. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was a bipartisan bill designed to protect workers, consumers who use chemicals, and people who live where chemicals are released into the environment. Whether the EPA is evaluating new or old chemicals, the scope of these evaluations must be comprehensive and the data for the evaluations must be scientifically sound. Through systematic and comprehensive evaluations of chemicals by the EPA can reduce the risks of chemicals on the U.S. market, saving lives and improving the health of people who live and work in the United States.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the scoping process for the ten chemicals.

The National Center for Health Research can be reached through Stephanie Fox-Rawlings at or at (202) 223-4000.