The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan for Chemical Assessments to include bisphenol A (BPA), seven phthalates and 15 other substances. Designed to help the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics identify chemicals with “the highest potential for exposure and hazard,” the TSC A Work Plan in 2012 flagged 83 chemicals as part of an ongoing initiative to expedite assessments for substances believed to have reproductive, developmental or neurotoxic effects, as well as those that are “probable or known carcinogens” or “persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.” The plan also targets substances used in children’s products and those that have been detected in biomonitoring programs.

This latest update to the TSC A Work Plan removes 15 chemicals and adds 23 new ones, bringing the total list to 90 chemicals. In addition to BPA, the chemicals added to the updated list include dibutyl phthalate, butyl benzyl phthalate, di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, di-n-octyl phthalate, di-isononyl phthalate, di-isodecyl phthalate, and di-isobutyl phthalate. At the same time, however, EPA removed mercury and mercury compounds from the TSC A Work Plan “because their hazards are already well characterized and EPA has a strong risk reduction effort in place.” The agency also declined to add benzidine dyes, long-chain perfluorinated chemicals, methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, toluene diisocyanate and short chain chlorinated paraffins, reasoning that these chemicals either had low exposure or toxicity risk or had already been removed from commerce.

“EPA notes that identification of a chemical on the TSC A Work Plan for Chemical Assessments does not itself constitute a finding by the Agency that the chemical presents a risk to human health or the environment,” states the TSC A Work Plan summary. “Rather, identification of a chemical on the TSC A Work Plan for Chemical Assessments indicates only that the Agency intends to consider it for assessment. The Agency believes that identifying these chemicals early in the review process would afford all interested parties the opportunity to bring additional relevant information on those chemicals to the Agency’s attention to further inform the assessment.”

In a related development, EPA has rejected a petition for rulemaking on polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl chloride and phthalates used as plasticizers. Submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) under TSC A section 21, the petition alternatively requested additional toxicity testing of these chemicals. Though still reviewing a separate petition seeking action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, EPA declined to initiate rulemaking because the first petition did not (i) “specify what risk management action it is requesting,” (ii) “set forth sufficient facts to establish that the disposal of PVC, vinyl chloride, or phthalates used as plasticizers presents or will present an unreasonable risk,” or (iii) “explain why action under TSC A would be preferable to action under other statutory authorities.” See Federal Register, October 31, 2014.