The Lautenberg Chemical Safety Amendments Thus Far: Stakeholder Perspectives
Posted on behalf of Kahy Chan.
Three years have passed since the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Amendments (LCSA) updated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 (EPA 2016). On June 24, 2019, the Environmental Law Institute, Bergeson & Campbell P.C., and the George Washington Milken Institute of Public Health hosted an event entitled “TSCA: Three Years Later,” the third in a series of conferences evaluating the successes and challenges of the amended TSCA (see event materials here). Governmental, private sector, academic, and non-governmental stakeholders participated in panels evaluating TSCA implementation over the past three years, as well as scientific issues (e.g., chemical testing requirements), and regulatory and policy issues (e.g., enforcement laws and policies).
Section 6 of LSCA mandates that EPA release the evaluations for the 10 highest priority chemicals by the end of 2019 (with an option for a six-month extension) (Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act). Panelists voiced concern regarding the aggressive statutory deadlines and limited resources to conduct these assessments using the best available science, particularly given the large backlog of chemicals in the inventory. Thus far, EPA has released four draft risk evaluations: Pigment Violet 29, 1-bromopropane (1-BP), the cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster (HBCD), and 1,4-dioxane. For Pigment Violet 29 and HBCD, EPA concluded that there were no unreasonable risks to the general population, workers or occupational non-users, or the environment. EPA concluded that 1,4-dioxane presents unreasonable risks to workers under certain conditions.. Finally, 1-BP is considered to pose unreasonable risk to workers and consumers under certain conditions.
A major theme of the meeting was the potential for inconsistency across agencies with regard to the evaluating risks and protecting occupational populations. Worker safety is under the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with research support and guidance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). EPA must also evaluate risk to sensitive populations in TSCA risk evaluations, and occupational populations have been critical in risk evaluations thus far. Panelists recommended that EPA work closely with other agencies to ensure consistency and protection of these populations. Panelists also called for a clear definition of “unreasonable risk” from Congress, which they felt would improve risk communication to the public and potentially prevent future litigation.
EPA scientists emphasized the importance of its ability to remain flexible, given the diversity of chemicals and the inherent scientific uncertainty in risk evaluation. They remained optimistic about upholding the requirements of the law and meeting deadlines, and communicated their intent to be transparent about the difficulties and uncertainties associated with the process. Once proclaimed as a predominant form of preventative medicine, TSCA has the potential to prove that the government can take proper action on chemical regulation, which can alert people and communities to potential chemical hazards, based on sound scientific evidence. The next six months to a year will be telling, as EPA completes the risk evaluations for the first 10 chemicals, finalizes the next 20 high priority substances for evaluation, and continues to refine its risk evaluation process.
Cardno ChemRisk scientists have extensive professional experience in regulatory risk assessment and TSCA. For assistance, or for more information on Cardno ChemRisk’s capabilities, please contact Heather Lynch and Marisa Kreider.