In breaking manufacturing news from Washington, D.C., the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a final rule under the modern TSCA or Toxic Substances Control Act.
The new final rule requires that manufacturers of 19 high production volume (HPV) chemicals test the effects, in terms of environment, health, and safety (EHS) of the named 19 chemicals. Companies must then submit the data to the EPA.
“This chemical data reporting will provide EPA with critical information to better evaluate any potential risks from these chemicals that are being produced in large quantities in this country,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
“Having this information is essential to improve chemical safety and protect the health of the American people and the environment,” Owens said.
EPA already hosts the High Production Volume Information System (HPVIS), an online database populated with HPV chemical data. HPVIS allows users to search and query chemical data tailored to their specific needs.
We checked out the database. A search for “toxic” or “triclosan” yielded nothing — zero search results. Not everyone has chemical CAS numbers at their fingertips. This is where these types of databases often fail. Even compliance managers have to dig up CAS numbers.
Anyway, the CAS number for triclosan is 9012-63-9. We tried that and still got zero (0) search results. Maybe we needed something with a higher production value? So we tried BPA and got one (1) result. What comes up is pretty neat data — see if you can see this link — and if not, do the search yourself. It’s worth being familiar with the database, especially if you’re a journalist reading this blog.
New Rule of 19 High Production Chemicals
The chemicals in the new rule show up in many consumer and industrial uses and products. For instance:
- 9, 10-anthracenedione is used to manufacture dyes
- leuco sulfur black is a fingerprinting agent
- diphenylmethanone is used in consumer products and may be found in personal-care products
- C12-C24 chloroalkenes are used as metalworking fluids
- pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) is a blasting and demolition agent
Ironically, these were hard to find — zero (0) — in the HPV database. Hence the rule…?
The Challenge and the Rule
The rule on the 19 chemicals requiring testing follows on 2010’s voluntary HPV Challenge Program Chemical List launched by EPA that included chemicals used in household products such as hobby/craft glues, personal-care products, home cleaning products, home maintenance products, and automotive products.
The program challenged companies to make health and environmental effects data publicly available for HPV chemicals.
Companies voluntarily supplied data on more than 2,200 HPV chemicals. But apparently no health and environmental effects data was provided on the 19 chemicals in today’s rule. Thus EPA found it necessary to require testing.
In the coming year, EPA intends to require testing of other chemicals for which the agency has not received data. So really, this is a warning flag from EPA that it’s not messing around. Nor should it be, with dangerous chemicals in everything from food coloring to jewelry, public pressure on EPA is at an all time high.
You’d expect consumer protests would be the next thing. And hand it to Dow Chemical for stepping away from the pack and toward greener chemicals and products last year.
As a reminder, in 2008, the OECD produced Guidelines for Chemicals Testing. These may help. Or not! But a key reference for the back pocket of companies pursuing the chemical testing in an action sense of the word:
OECD Test Guidelines are harmonized test methods included in the OECD Council Decision on Mutual Acceptance of Data. This means that “data generated in the testing of chemicals in an OECD Member country (or some non member economies ) in accordance with OECD Test Guidelines and OECD principles of Good Laboratory Practice2 shall be accepted in other Member countries (or non member economies) for purposes of assessment and other uses relating to the protection of man and the environment.”