The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has named ten chemicals for review under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) legislation. The TSCA requires the EPA to complete risk assessments for chemicals manufactured, distributed and imported to the United States. The chemicals will be taken from the EPA’s 2014 TSCA Work Plan of 90 chemicals selected based on their potential for high hazard and exposure. The statutory deadline to complete the risk evaluations for potential risks to human health and the environment is three years. 

The first ten chemicals to be evaluated are: 1,4-Dioxane; 1-Bromopropane; Asbestos; Carbon; Tetrachloride; Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster; Methylene Chloride; Nmethylpyrrolidone; Pigment; Violet 29; Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene; and Trichloroethylene.

Notable in this list is asbestos – which was initially banned in 1989 but then overturned in 1991 after a federal court found that the EPA had failed to demonstrate the ban was the least burdensome alternative for eliminating the risk of exposure, as required by the TSCA. Currently the EPA only bans certain products and uses of asbestos. 

The EPA will release a scoping document for each chemical within six months, detailing the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations the agency plans to consider for the evaluation. Any identified risk must be mitigated with restrictions on use, up to and including, a ban on the chemical or specific use. The public, industry members, environmental and public health groups, and non-governmental organizations may submit comments and information for consideration during the EPA’s risk evaluation process. For each risk evaluation the EPA completes, the TSCA requires the start of another until the remaining chemicals from the 2014 TSCA Work Plan are reviewed for their potential hazard and exposure. By the end of 2019, the EPA must have at least 20 chemical risk evaluations ongoing at any time.