California’s BPA Threshold

BPA has officially been assigned a maximum daily threshold limit by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). In policy and compliance terms, this means OEHHA has officially announced a proposal to adopt a Proposition 65 Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL).

The MADL for exposures to bisphenol A (BPA) is set at 290 micrograms per day.

The notorious B.P.A. BPA is being considered for Prop 65 listing due its being “known to cause reproductive toxicity.” (In the event that BPA does not wind up listed, OEHHA will not proceed with the adoption of this Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL)).

OEHHA says it is proposing the MADL of 290 micrograms per day at this time to assist the public in assessing the potential impact of the listing.

Here’s some context. In a 2011 study reported by Fox News, people who ate one serving of canned soup every day for five days had BPA levels of 20.8 micrograms per liter of urine. Compare this to the control group, who ate fresh soup for those five days and had just 1.1 micrograms per liter.

The difference in BPA levels represents a 1,221 % increase in humans— from just one serving of canned soup per day. There are other canned consumable goods people eat every day. BPA shows up in food from restaurants, in prepared and frozen foods, and in places you might not expect, like some paints, packaging and of course, plastic bottles. A person’s daily total exposure is the thing of concern here.

BPA and worker safety. The levels of BPA seen in the study participants were “among the most extreme reported in a nonoccupational setting,” the researchers wrote in their report.

This is a reminder that while consumers should watch their BPA exposures, folks in occupational settings should really watch theirs.

Packagers, technical supervisors, laboratory technicians and maintenance workers in BPA manufacturing facilities and facilities using BPA to manufacture, say, epoxy resin are examples of occupational environments where male workers in one Kaiser study showed four times as many endocrine-disruption related conditions. Male hormonal disruptions result in conditions such as, well, you know. And if you don’t know, read the study.

However, California Proposition 65 exists primarily to protect citizens of California, not so much as a worker safety measure. So news surrounding this BPA moment will focus on can linings and cash register receipts and other such areas where average citizens are exposed.

Feedback from industry. In legalese, setting a maximum threshold for exposure to BPA would happen via amendment of Section 25805(b) of Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations.

Any written comments concerning this proposed action, regardless of the form or method of transmission, must be received by OEHHA by 5:00 p.m. on March 11, 2013. All comments will be posted on the OEHHA website at the close of the public comment period, so don’t say anything your company won’t stand behind later.

Feedback from the public. Just because it’s usually industry who comments on these matters doesn’t mean the public shouldn’t (or, necessarily, should). Comment periods are open. If you have some knowledge of BPA and related issues and you have an opinion on the proposed threshold, you should email comments to: P65Public.Comments@oehha.ca.gov — they’ve asked that folks please include “BPA MADL” in the subject line.

The most recent Cal Prop 65 list can be found here: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/files/P65single010413.pdf

Predictions for 2013

For this column, we compiled the top 5 predictions for compliance in 2013 as it will concern members of the Actio Network (and the majority of business persons with industrial concerns). Categories encompass the electronics industry, EPA/TSCA/etc, Power, Air and Water regulations — and tech tools to manage it.

1. Electronics. This is a highly readable and insightful “quick takes” from the editor of Circuits Assembly magazine, Mike Buetow. His six bullet point predictons for 2013 hit the mark, including:

  1. Accelerated migration of manufacturing in North America
  2. Flextronics will purchase significant stakes in RIM (Research In Motion)
  3. Action in the PCB CAD bullpen

Buetow’s six predictions

2. EPA, TSCA, REACH. Bergeson & Campbell published a comprehensive piece, predicting 2013 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). An excellent document. Predictions include:

  1. TSCA legislation outlook: dim, with updates unlikely
  2. OPPT will continue leveraging existing TSCA authorities to assess and regulate chemicals
  3. REACH: deadlines as usual

Other topics in the article: Regulation of nanoscale materials, California Safer Consumer Products Regulations, FIFRA/FQPA, rodenticide cancellation, pollinators, Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), Asia forecast: China, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Japan, Korea.

Get the EPA / TSCA outlook

3. Software. In the 2013 quality and stewardship arena, expect to see huge strides in technology. Next-generation software engines will solve (examples provided, use links):

  1. Material disclosure and supplier management
  2. GHS document authoring and management
  3. SEC conflict mineral reporting

4. Power companies. This piece includes the top ten predictions for the power industry by the editor of Power magazine. Predictions include:

  1. Kyoto 2 is Dead
  2. Natural Gas Prices Rise 20%
  3. The Carbon Tax Dies

See the top ten

5. EPA: air and water. Over the next two years, EPA will propose and finalize many new and significant rules, particularly under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The pipeline is full, and electric utilities, agricultural operations, the construction and real estate industries, and facilities using large boilers need to pay special attention. Specifically there will be:

Stricter Air Requirements Utility MACT/Mercury Rule, Boiler MACT, and Revised PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for starters.

Stricter Water Requirements  Revisions to the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Discharge Permitting Regulations — Particularly, areas like the Chesapeake Bay are implied, where nutrients are believed to be significant contributors to water quality impairment, will see more stringent permitting requirements.

Effluent Guidelines for The Construction and Development Industry  New construction activities can expect more stringent requirements governing stormwater discharges.

Stormwater Discharges from Developed Sites  Expect to see a proposed rule on restrictions on stormwater flow (as opposed to limits on pollutants in stormwater) possibly as early as the summer of 2013.

Effluent Guidelines for Electricity Generating Units  EPA expects rulemaking to address discharges from ash ponds and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) air pollution controls, as well as other power plant waste streams, for power plants. The proposal should be released in the next few months.

Definition of “Waters of the United States”  EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are attempting to develop a proposed rule to clarify which waters are subject to regulation and protected by the Clean Water Act. It is not clear when or if this proposed rule will be published.

by Thomas G. Echikson

Details here

—-

For reference, a list of EPA forecasted projects

For reference, try browsing the list below to get a predictive view of forecasted projects for 2013.  The information in EPA’s forecast database (link below) is based on the best information available at the time of posting and is intended for prospective contracting planning purposes. Please note that some records in the database contain the statement of work (SOW) from the current contract, which can be interesting.

2013 EPA Project Forecast Database

OSHA’s Public Cadmium Poisoning Assessment Tool

As of today, January 2, 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Rule that was issued on December 3, 2012 regarding cadmium. The rule being withdrawn would have required some manufacturers of consumer goods containing cadmium to report on health and safety data to EPA. 

In an unrelated move but worth mentioning, some factions of the U.S. government (led by OSHA*) have developed and made available a tool for cadmium poisoning mitigation. The idea is that you interview someone who may have been dangerously exposed to cadmium. You enter their answers into the tool, called the OSHA Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor.

The data you enter, simple answers to simple questions, is rationalized, then crunched against known data points and thresholds for cadmium exposures of various types. Instructions for quickly and rightly mitigating any toxicity related damage are provided instantly.

Technically, the tool exists to address the federal monitoring and surveillance requirements of the general industry Cadmium Standard (summary can be found here). But if you feel you or an employee may have been overexposed to cadmium, read on.

The OSHA Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor. The tools works by prompting the user with key questions and relying on data from biological monitoring tests to determine an appropriate course of action. This Advisor analyzes biological monitoring lab results for currently exposed workers. It determines the biological monitoring and medical surveillance requirements of the general industry Cadmium Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1027, applicable to those results.

Technically, the tool is designed for experienced medical professionals, but it is also available to workers and the general public. There’s no requirement for using the OSHA Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor. The results presented by the tool are, obviously, critically dependent upon the accuracy of the input data.

If you have any questions or concerns, OSHA asks that you contact them directly or find the advice of an expert.

There are subtleties to the restrictions around industries regarding cadmium exposure. For instance:
For general industry, an employer has 30 days to reassess the employee’s occupational exposure to cadmium. For the construction industry, there’s no time limit to reassess occupational exposure. (The logic of this escapes me, perhaps someone can clarify in the comments section.)

Similar rule notes can be found here: a few subtleties.

Cadmium poisoning sites and signs.  In its elemental form, cadmium is either a blue-white metal or a grayish-white powder found in lead, copper, and zinc sulfide ores. However, most cadmium compounds are highly colored from brown to yellow and red. Cadmium’s uses vary from an electrode component in alkaline batteries to a stabilizer in plastics.

OSHA estimates that approximately 70,000 employees in the US construction industry are potentially exposed to cadmium. Specifically, OSHA asks employers to establish regulated areas whenever the following construction activities are conducted:

  1. Electrical grounding with cadmium welding
  2. Cutting, brazing, burning, grinding, or welding on surfaces that are painted with cadmium-containing paints
  3. Electrical work using cadmium-coated conduits
  4. Using cadmium-containing paints
  5. Cutting and welding cadmium-plated steel
  6. Brazing or welding with cadmium alloys
  7. Fusing of reinforced steel by cadmium welding
  8. Maintaining or retrofitting cadmium-coated equipment
  9. Wrecking and demolishing where cadmium is present

Symptoms of cadmium poisoning are listed here.

Start using the tool here: OSHA Cadmium Advisor.* Groups who made the Advisor Tool available: Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor (OSHA), along with the Office of the Solicitor of Labor (Who?) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy (OASP)

EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge

Executives from LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sprint, and Staples and Best Buy convened at a certified electronics recycling facility in Romeoville, IL. Lisa Feldt, deputy assistant administrator for EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, attended representing EPA.

The occasion was EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge. Apparently Dell, Sony and Nokia have also signed up. Also, if anyone’s keeping score, in the past, Dell, HP, Samsung, Apple, and Best Buy have been public supporters of a bill along these e-waste lines, in particular the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act.

Sustainable materials management itself is not a new concept, the buzz and energy around it perhaps is. Today’s event was essentially a signing party.

For readers interested in sustainable materials management software, Gartner Group, the renowned analyst firm, puts out annual reports around this subject. Oftentimes sustainability is lumped into GRC, or Governance, Risk and Compliance.

A Gartner paper called “Hype Cycle for Governance, Risk and Compliance Technologies, 2011” mentions that “safety and sustainability priorities, in addition to the ongoing legislation mandating compliance, put a spotlight on safety and environmental performance. Businesses are demanding standardization, simplification, transparency and speed.”

For software to manage the challenge, the Gartner report mentions companies such as Actio Corporation, EtQ, IHS, Medgate, ProcessMAP, PureSafety, SAP, and The Wercs.

By participating in the SMM Electronics Challenge, leaders in the electronics industry are committing to send all — that’s 100% — of the used electronics that they collect to third-party certified refurbishers and recyclers and to increase the amount of used electronics they collect.

Through this challenge, EPA is providing a transparent and measurable way for electronic companies to commit to safe and environmentally protective practices for the refurbishment and recycling of used electronics, and publicly show progress toward recycling goals.

For more on this initiative, see http://www.epa.gov/smm/.

*Attendees of note at signing ceremony in Illinois:
Lisa Feldt, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Laura Bishop, Best Buy Vice President for Government Relations
Y.K. Cho, LG Electronics Senior Vice President
Peter M. Fannon, Panasonic Vice President for Corporate and Government Affairs
Mike Moss, Samsung Director for Corporate Environmental Affairs
Jim Cole, Sharp Director of Technical Services and Support
Ralph Reid, Sprint Vice President of Corporate Responsibility
Bob Wolfe, Staples Regional Vice President for Chicago

US Senate EPW approves Safe Chemicals Act

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee has approved the “Safe Chemicals Act,” which was introduced last year. The legislation is intended to protect Americans from dangerous toxic chemicals that are found in everyday consumer products.

The measure is expected to move forward along party lines.  That is to say, it’s “unlikely to advance without bipartisan support” (Tribune).

“This vote is a major milestone in our effort to fix America’s broken system for regulating toxic chemicals,” said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ). Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” last year in an effort to modernize the “Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976” (TSCA).

The bill aims to provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the tools it needs to require health and safety testing of toxic chemicals and places the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe.

Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical is dangerous. As a result, EPA has been able to require testing for just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances.

Where the chemicals are. Scientists and environmental groups have expressed concern about chemicals that are used in the production of a wide-range of consumer products.  NJToday’s list of such products includes:

  1. Rug cleaners and stain-resistant carpet
  2. Non-stick cookware
  3. Vinyl products
  4. Dishwashing liquids
  5. Fabric softeners
  6. Upholstery
  7. Insulation, and
  8. Hair dyes

The Safe Chemicals Act would:

  1. Require manufacturers to develop and submit safety data for each chemical they produce, while avoiding duplicative or unnecessary testing.
  2. Prioritize chemicals based on risk, so that EPA can focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm while working through the backlog of untested existing chemicals.
  3. Place the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their chemicals.
  4. Restrict uses of chemicals that cannot be proven safe.
  5. Establish a public database to catalog the information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA’s safety determinations.
  6. Promote innovation and development of safe chemical alternatives, and bring some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.

Actio’s position on the Safe Chemicals Act is that it would be much easier to establish policies at a federal level than have the tangle of state and sector parameters in place now.

However, cheekily we might point out that Actio software exists to untangle those compliance webs — so maybe as a company we should have mixed feelings towards federal level policy!  (Truly: this one US federal law passing would not eliminate the need to Actio software — the need exists as long as there are international regulations, supply chain transparency needs, and unique declarable substances lists within discrete market sectors.)

The fact is that policy watchers see no real reason to believe the Safe Chemicals Act will gather serious momentum in the near future.  But you never know.  We’ll keep watching.

EPA Penalties for Wrong Chemical Data Reporting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued complaints seeking civil penalties against three companies for alleged violations of chemical reporting and record-keeping requirements. The requirements, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), require companies to submit accurate data about the production and use of chemical substances manufactured or imported during a calendar year.

Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) penalties
These violations in particular involve failure to comply with EPA’s TSCA section 8 Inventory Update Reporting (IUR). The gist of the TSCA section 8 update is related to production volumes of chemicals, adjusted last November 2011. The larger IUR is well-explained here.

Under the TSCA penalty structure as it stands, penalties can be assessed up to $37,500 per day, per violation.

Formerly known simply as the IUR, the rule is now called the “TSCA Chemical Data Reporting Rule.”  Of course, that’s been abbreviated,  now it’s known just as CDR in most circles. As always, have your acronym machete handy when approaching EPA materials. Again, details can be found in section 8 of the larger TSCA.

CDR reporting deadlines and transgressions 
The reporting deadline for the 2006 IUR rule ended in March of 2007 — EPA’s enforcement efforts have led to 43 civil enforcement actions and approximately $2.3 million dollars in civil penalties against companies that failed to report required chemical data information.

By the way: the reporting deadline for the CDR 2012 submission period is August 13, 2012.

The three most recent cases where EPA is complaining of a trangression are against Chemtura Corporation, Bethlehem Apparatus Company, and Haldor Topsoe, Inc., and resulted in penalties totaling $362,113.

The Chemtura Corporation – $55,901. The company corrected the violations, paid the penalty and a final order was issued by the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) on June 25, 2012.

Bethlehem Apparatus Company – $103,433. The company corrected the violations and paid the penalty.

Haldor Topsoe, Inc. – $202,779. The company paid on July 2, 2012.

It will be interesting to see if enforcement continues, and whether it trends towards higher fines or not.  Chemical data reporting is poised to become the next great challenge (and, arguably, competitive advantage) for American companies — which is why technology market watchers paid such attention to software for chemical ingredient disclosure earlier this year.

More information about TSCA reporting requirements and penalties is online, at the EPA website.

EPA’s New Rule Requires Electronic Reporting

Time to buff up your stuff — meaning your data archives and processes.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed rule to require electronic reporting for certain information submitted to the agency under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Now’s the time to get data management under control so reports aren’t being fired off from your internal ops over to EPA willy-nilly.
You’ll recall last year when a similar rule was launched.  EPA set up a page for that rule called Requirements for Submitting Electronic Pre-manufacture Notices (PMNs).
Today’s proposed rule would require electronic reporting rather than paper-based reporting for various TSCA actions including submission of information relating to chemical testing, health and safety studies, and other information. When final, EPA will only accept data, reports, and other information submitted through EPA’s Central Data Exchange, a centralized portal that enables streamlined, electronic submission of data via the Internet.
EPA will be soliciting comments on this proposed rule for 60 days.  
Fact is, though, digital reporting is the way of the future.
For more information on the proposed rule: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/chemtest/
For more information on OPPT’s increasing transparency efforts: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/transparency.html

EPA to Require Companies to Report ‘All Uses’ of PBDEs, HBCD

Printing companies, paint and coatings companies and those using flame retardants in manufactured goods should take note: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that companies be required to report to EPA all new uses — including in domestic or imported products — of five groups of potentially harmful chemicals:

  1. polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs)
  2. benzidine dyes
  3. a short chain chlorinated paraffin
  4. hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  5. phthalate di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP)

The agency is also proposing additional testing on the health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

Although a number of these chemicals are no longer manufactured or used in the U.S. they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in products,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Over the years, these chemicals have been used in a range of consumer products and industrial applications, including paints, printing inks, pigments and dyes in textiles, flame retardants in flexible foams, and plasticizers.

The idea appears to be largely one of protecting American consumers from international supply chains with — shall we say — different ideas about the hazards of chemicals in these 5 groupings.

The proposed regulatory actions are known as significant new use rules (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed rules would require that anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the chemicals for an activity that is designated as a significant new use to submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. This notification means EPA can evaluate the intended new use and take action to prohibit or limit that activity, if warranted. For PBDEs, the agency will also issue simultaneously a proposed test rule under section 4(a) of TSCA that would require manufacturers or processors to conduct testing on health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

Today’s proposed SNURs were previously identified in action plans the agency issued on these and other chemicals during the last two years.

More:  www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/ 

EPA Publishes More Confidential Business Info

Last June, EPA removed confidentiality protection for more than 150 chemicals. EPA’s declassification trend toward substance-level material disclosure is similar to the culture around chemical information in Europe under REACH and RoHS.

On Nov. 28, the agency announced the public availability of hundreds of studies on chemicals that had previously been treated as confidential business information (CBI). EPA says that over the next year the agency expects to review several thousand additional studies on industrial chemicals and make many reviews accessible to the public.

Releasing the data, says EPA, will expand the public’s access to critical health and safety information on chemicals that are manufactured and processed in the U.S.  Newly available information can be found using EPA’s Chemical Data Access Tool.

Since 2009, “What’s in your product?” is a question with over 500 answers available now that were previously unavailable. Some 577 formerly confidential chemical identities are no longer confidential and more than 1,000 health and safety studies are now accessible to the public that were previously unavailable or only available in limited circumstances. In 2010 EPA issued new guidance outlining the agency’s plans to deny confidentiality claims for chemical identities in health and safety studies under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that are determined to not be entitled to CBI status. EPA has been reviewing CBI claims in new and existing TSCA filings containing health and safety studies.

“EPA is increasing the availability of critical health and safety studies on chemicals that children and families are exposed to every day. We are making important progress in making this information public and giving the American public easy access to it,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

For additional information, please visit: www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/transparency.html

EPA Induces ToxCast Labor, Hires 4 Companies

Interesting news:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ToxCast chemical screening program has awarded contracts to four United States-based companies to test up to 10,000 chemicals for potential toxicity to people and the environment. ToxCast is designed to determine how chemical exposures affect human health.

The idea behind ToxCast is that it will be able to screen thousands of chemicals in fast, cost-effective tests.  A key goal of the initiative is to reduce EPA’s reliance on slow and expensive animal toxicity tests, enabling the agency to screen chemicals more quickly and “to predict and identify potential risks to Americans.”  Frankly testing mice and bunnies does seem, besides distasteful, a bit archaic.

The companies are:

All four companies will likely hire new employees as a result of these contracts, and it’s good that EPA considered this in the selection.  The companies have offices across the U.S., including smaller markets such as Michigan.  Two of the companies — Vala Sciences and BioReliance — are small businesses.

The four companies will initially screen up to 1,000 chemicals currently in the ToxCast program using innovative technologies such as stem cell toxicity tests. These new technologies can quickly determine the potential for a chemical to cause harm to the human body.  Screening results from the new technologies will be combined with data already being generated by the other 500 rapid chemical tests used by EPA’s ToxCast program.

The chemicals ToxCast is now screening are found in industrial and consumer products, food additives and drugs.

EPA scientific studies using ToxCast have already been published in peer-reviewed science journals, and demonstrate the ability of ToxCast to predict a chemical’s potential to cause several diseases.

For more information on ToxCast database:  http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ToxCastDB/Home.jsp

Image credit: Jack Dykinga – USFWS/public domain