By: Jeremy Carroll
September 20, 2013
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn a draft rule that would have added bisphenol A, several phthalates and a category of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) to a list of chemicals of concern.
The chemicals of concern include a list of substances that EPA finds present, or may present, an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment.
The rule was originally proposed in the fall of 2010, but it did not go any further than a draft rule and was not officially proposed for public comment.
In a statement to Plastics News, EPA said it is withdrawing the proposed rule — along with another rule — from inter agency review “after determining they are no longer necessary.”
The agency said it was taking a different track at looking at chemicals instead of utilizing the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA is where the chemicals of concern are listed.
“EPA has developed a Work Plan of more than 80 chemicals for risk assessment and risk reduction, as warranted, instead of utilizing the [TSCA] authority to simply list chemicals that may pose a concern,” the agency said.
To date, EPA has released five draft risk assessments for public comment and peer review, and has identified certain chemicals slated for assessment in 2014, the agency said.
The other proposed rule that EPA is withdrawing would have amended existing regulations that would have limited confidential business information (CBI) claims for health and safety studies included in new chemical review submissions under TSCA.
“EPA continues to try to reduce unwarranted claims of confidentiality and has taken a number of significant steps that have had dramatic results,” the agency said in a statement. “These include tightening policies for CBI claims and declassifying unwarranted confidentiality claims, challenging companies to review existing CBI claims to ensure that they are still valid and providing easier and enhanced access to a wider array of information.”
The American Chemistry Council praised the move, commending “EPA for choosing a course of action that will ultimately strengthen the performance of the nation’s primary chemical management law.”
ACC said the Work Plan Chemicals has made the “chemicals of concern” list unnecessary.
“As Congress works toward our shared goal of passing a comprehensive and bipartisan solution for updating TSCA, we will continue to look for further opportunities to work with EPA and offer recommendations in an effort to make TSCA stronger, more efficient and more effective,” ACC said in a statement.
In a post on the Environmental Defense Fund’s website, Richard Denison, a senior scientist with the organization said “both rules were subject to intense opposition and lobbying from the chemical industry,” and both had sat for several years without action from the White House.
“Faced presumably with the reality that [the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] was never going to let EPA even propose the rules for public comment, EPA decided to withdraw them,” Denison wrote.