EPA Notice: On December 30, 2009, as part of EPA’s comprehensive approach to enhancing the Agency’s current chemicals management program under TSCA, EPA posted action plans on phthalates, long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in products, and short-chain chlorinated paraffins.

More chemicals added on the action list March 17, 2010:

  • Benzidine dyes and pigments
  • Bisphenol A
  • Diisocyanates
  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Nonylphenol/Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NP/NPE)
  • Siloxanes

So far, so good.  EPA appears to be planning on using the plethora of existing authorities under TSCA to tackle what it has picked as priority chemical categories.  Plus, all of them have significant ongoing voluntary actions.  Using 5(b)(4), SNURs and section 6 rules and getting more info under 8(a) will be good insofar as EPA follows proper rulemaking procedures and develops a solid record of supporting its work and responding to substantive public comment on the burden and appropriateness of its actions as necessary for risk management.

I'm a fan of rulemaking:  public notice and response to comments.  (I teach a course on it at the University of Minnesota!) It remains to be seen how well EPA executes these TSCA actions.  I think they have enough authority now and the hurdles to rulemaking are not insurmountable as long as EPA is reasonable.  As to the chemical industry, I think we will see less knee-jerk condemnation of anything EPA tries to do (in fact, a lot have already moved away from these chemicals).  As trade associations have shown, they are open to reasonable use (even modification) of TSCA (ACC, CSPA/GMA/SDA ).  Now if only the NGOs and EPA can be more thoughtful in how to achieve risk management - not going for the one-size-fits-all ban option - we might see that the existing law isn't that feeble after all.
The devil will be in the detail of execution.  And whether Congress will step in and decide they know best how to deal with toxic chemicals and that regulations are too inefficient.   We'll be watching.

EHS Strategies, Inc can help if you have chemicals that are going to be acted on.

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