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EPA prioritises five chemicals

Following a public consultation, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is beginning a 12-month process to prioritise five additional toxic chemicals for risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Should they be designated as high priority substances, as expected, risk evaluations will then begin.

All five are probable human carcinogens and have been linked to various other health issues, such as irritation of the respiratory system. They were selected from the 2014 TSCA Work Plan based on their hazards and potential for exposure, considering such factors as how they used, known hazards and exposures, and the availability of information. They are:

* Acetaldehyde, used mainly in adhesives and petrochemicals, plus intermediates for packaging and construction materials

* Acrylonitrile, used mainly in plastic materials and paints *

Benzenamine, used mainly in dyes and pigments, petrochemicals, plastics and resins

* MBOCA, used mainly in rubbers, plastics and resins

* Vinyl chloride, the precursor to PVC

Going forward, EPA expects to initiate prioritisation on five chemicals every year, which, it said, “will create a sustainable and effective pace for risk evaluations. The process is also said to be part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of “environmental justice for all by evaluating, sharing information on, and providing a process to, as appropriate and needed, address the impacts of toxic chemicals in use on workers, consumers, and communities”.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) responded: “Effective implementation of the TSCA program has been plagued with challenges. With today’s announcement … EPA officials and the stakeholder community have an opportunity to put science first and take a positive step forward in TSCA implementation.”

“Gathering the most relevant data to inform future decision-making will be critical. Anything less will add regulatory burden, cost, delays, and impede progress to a sustainable and circular economy” the association added. “ACC stands ready to work with the EPA and other decision-makers to help inform the evaluations about the important uses and innovations these substances enable.”

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