ITC Submits New Priority Testing List

The TSCA Interagency Testing Committee (ITC) submitted a report to EPA on April 13, 2020 listing an additional 39 chemicals on the priority testing list.  Within the 39 chemicals, 15 are already designated as high-priority substances and 24 are organohalogen flame retardants.  The priority testing list currently has five other high-priority substances and six organohalogen flame retardants.  The high-priority substance list contains substances with the most demand for evaluation from a risk-based screening process.

ITC also recommended the 15 high-priority substances be added to TSCA section 8(d) Health and Safety Data Reporting rule in order for EPA to obtain unpublished health and safety studies.  The report states the high-priority substances may present an unreasonable risk for the health of people and/or the environment.  The risk evaluation process has already begun for each of these high-priority substances.

The 24 organohalogen flame retardants were added to the priority testing listing after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to ask the ITC to add the chemicals.  In addition, CPSC granted a petition to begin rulemaking for additive, nonpolymeric organohalogen flame retardants under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act

EPA is currently seeking public comments on the revisions to the priority testing list and any information relevant to the listing.  The comment period is open until May 28, 2021.

Rite Aid Chemical Policy Update

The pharmacy chain Rite Aid expanded its chemical management policy on March 3, 2021 to add transparency, include additional chemicals on their restricted substance list, and update their screening method.  Transparency for the new policy requires suppliers to be more specific in listing their ingredients, such as replacing ‘fragrance’ with the ingredients that make up the fragrance.  These generic terms will be replaced with the substances in those components.  Additionally, Rite Aid is encouraging their suppliers to disclose nonfunctional constituents such as by-products and contaminants.  This additional level of detail on the packaging of products sold at Rite Aid stores will become mandatory by December 2023.

Rite Aid initially had eight chemicals on its restricted substance list (triclosan, propyl paraben, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, diethyl phthalate, butyl paraben, and nonylphenol ethoxylates).  The new policy has added 61 chemicals.  These chemicals include heavy metals, PFAS, Bisphenols, and solvents.

Along with updating their chemical management policy, Rite Aid has transitioned away from survey-based assessments for identifying chemicals on the restricted substance list.  Rite Aid began the transition process to WERCSmart in September 2018 and has now finish the transition.  Rite Aid suppliers are required to report the substances in their products to WERCSmart.  WERCSmart then analyzes the substances to see if they meet the retailer’s policy.  The chemical management policy does not address CBI issues, although WERCSmart may protect confidential data.

OSHA Proposes Revisions to Hazard Communication Standard

On February 15, 2021, OSHA posted a notice of proposed rulemaking to make changes to the Hazard Communication Standard.  The proposed changes include updates the criteria for classification on health and physical hazard, updating labels, new labeling provisions for small containers, technical amendments for the contents of safety data sheets, and revisions to definitions of certain terms.

The revised criteria for classification of certain health and physical hazards now includes any hazards associated with a change in the chemical’s physical form or from a reaction with other chemicals. The revised provisions for updating labels now includes the date the chemical is released for shipment.  Labels for bulk shipments can be on the immediate container or with the shipping papers, bills of lading or other electronic means that makes it immediately available to workers “in printed form on the receiving end of shipment”.

The proposed changes also state that chemical manufacturers or importers need to update the label for each individual container with each shipment, but do not need to relabel chemicals that have been released for shipment and are awaiting future distribution. For the new labeling provisions for small containers, additional options are available in situations where it is not feasible to use the full label information.  This includes putting the full label information on an outer package, a statement on the outer package that the smaller container needs to remain in the outer package when not in use, and at least has the product identifier on containers less than or equal to 3 ml.

OSHA is taking public comments on all of the proposed changes and the use of electronic template files to create safety data sheets and labels.  The comment period is open until May 19, 2021.

Manufacturer Request for Risk Evaluation of OTNE

On November 20, 2020, EPA received a manufacturer request for risk evaluation for the chemical substances in the octahydro-tetramethyl-naphthalenyl-ethanone chemical category (OTNE).  These substances are used as fragrance ingredients.  The three manufacturers, International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc., Privi Organics USA Corporation, and DRT America, Inc., sent the request through the OTNE Consortium.

The risk evaluation request applies to four chemicals within OTNE.  The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) considers two of the chemicals to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals.  While completing the risk evaluation for the OTNE chemical, EPA is not allowed to consider costs or other non-risk factors (15 U.S.C. 2605(b)(4)(F)(iii)).  The request for evaluation also includes possible conditions of use for EPA to identify.

EPA has until no later than June 5, 2021 to either grant or deny the request to conduct the risk evaluation for the OTNE chemicals.  In order for EPA to grant the request, it must meet all of the requirements listed under 40 CFR 702.37(e)(6)(ii).  These conditions are that the request constitutes conditions of use that warrant inclusion in a risk evaluation, EPA has all the necessary information to conduct the risk evaluation, and all the remaining criteria of 40 CFR 702.37 are met, such as manufacturers paying fees to support the risk evaluations.

PBT Rules

In January 2021, EPA published the final rules for five Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) chemicals.  The public comment period for these rules is open until May 17, 2021.  The five PBT chemicals are:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE)
  • Phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1))
  • 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2,4,6-TTBP)
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD)
  • Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP)

DecaBDE is used as an additive flame retardant in plastic enclosures for TVs, computers, and other household appliances.  It is toxic to aquatic animals and terrestrial invertebrates, causing developmental, neurological, and immunological issues.  It also harms the liver and is a carcinogen.  EPA’s published rule for decaBDE prohibits the manufacture, important, process and distribution of decaBDE products with a few exceptions, such as wire and cable for the two-year period until the prohibition goes into effect.

PIP (3:1) is used as a plasticizer, flame retardant, anti-wear additive, and anti-compressibility additive.  It is toxic to aquatic plants and animals, potentially causing reproductive and developmental effects on the animals’ organs.  EPA’s published rule for PIP (3:1) prohibits processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) and products containing it with some exceptions, such as various automotive and aviation products.  EPA issued a temporary 180-day “No Action Assurance” on the prohibitions for processing and distributing PIP (3:1) articles, which gives EPA enforcement discretion to ensure important articles are no interrupted in the supply chain.

2,4,6-TTBP is used as a reactant in processing and is used in fuel, fuel-related additives, oils, and lubricants.  It is toxic to aquatic plants and animals, causing developmental issues and harm to the liver. EPA’s published rule is to effectively prevent the use of 2,4,6-TTBP as a fuel injector cleaner and fuel additive for small commercial operations by prohibiting distributions of the chemical in concentrations above 0.3% in any container with less than 35 gallons.  Additionally, EPA prohibits its use as an oil and lubricant additive in concentrations of 0.3% regardless of the container size.

HCBD is burned as waste fuel after being created as a byproduct in the manufacturing of chlorinated hydrocarbons, particularly perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and carbon tetrachloride.  It is toxic to aquatic animals, birds, causing renal, reproductive, and developmental effects.  It is also potentially a human carcinogen. EPA’s published rule prohibits manufacturing, processing, and distributing HCBD is all products except those that unintentionally create it as a byproduct in the production of chlorinated solvents.

PCTP is used to make rubber more pliable.  It is toxic to fish, plants, and birds, causing liver and reproductive effects.  EPA’s published rule prohibits the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of all PCTP products above 1% concentration by weight of the chemical.

EPA Changing Systematic Review Approach

In February 2021, EPA announced the Agency’s commitment to strengthening science used in chemical risk evaluations.  EPA stated the Agency will continue to update its systematic review approach and its broader efforts to review the first 10 TSCA risk evaluations.  The first 10 TSCA risk evaluations were complete in January 2021.  Following the review of their 2018 systematic review approach by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), EPA stated they will never use that particular systematic review again.

NAS recommendations included:

  • Engaging in ongoing cross-sector efforts to develop and validate new tools and approaches.
  • Incorporating components of existing hazard assessments approaches.
  • Creating a handbook to assist with incomplete and hard to follow documentation.
  • Using standard descriptors for the strength of evidence.

EPA stressed that the NAS report was based on earlier EPA practices, and part of the reason for updating the systematic review approach is to ensure the review of the first 10 TSCA risk evaluations are done in accordance with Executive Orders and other directives from the Biden Administration.  The Agency’s goals from the review are that:

  • All Agency actions meet statutory obligations,
  • Be guided by the best available science,
  • Ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making, and
  • Protect human health and the environment.

EPA has begun the process of creating a TSCA systematic review protocol in collaboration with the Agency’s Office of Research and Development.  The new review protocol will incorporate approaches from the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, as recommended by NAS.  EPA expects to publish and take comments on the new review protocol later this year.

Prop. 65 Short Form Warning Change

In January 2021, OEHHA announced a proposal to make changes to use the of the short-form Proposition 65 warnings.  These changes restrict when a manufacturer would be allowed to use the short-form.  Previous use of the short-form warning label had “no limitation on using the short-form warning on larger products”.  The only requirement was that the entire warning text be at least the same size as the largest text for the rest of the consumer information on the product, or at least 6-point in size if the rest of the consumer information text was smaller.

Under the proposal, short-form warnings would only be allowed under the following conditions:

  • The total surface area of the product label available for consumer information is 5 square inches or less, and;
  • The package shape or size cannot accommodate the full-length warning described in section 25603(a).

The shape and size limitation described in section 25603(a) govern the ability to fit the text of the warning on the product and not dimensions of the shape or size of the warning.

OEHHA stated the purpose of the change is to correct widespread overuse use of the short form warning and to provide additional guidance for its use.  The comment period for this proposal is open until March 29, 2021.

EPA Issues Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Orders to Amazon

In February 2021, EPA announced that the Agency issued a “stop sale” order to Amazon in relation to unregistered pesticides and disinfectants.  This is the third stop sale order Amazon has been issued by EPA and brings the list of products in the stop sale order from 30 to 70.  The first stop sale order for unregistered pesticide products was on August 12, 2015.  The second stop sale order for unregistered pesticide products was on January 29, 2016.  For the current stop sale order, a majority of the products at issue make antimicrobial, antibacterial, or antiviral claims.  A few examples include Antimicrobial Pure Copper Therapy Ring, Replaceable Wipes Made of Sterile Non-Woven Fabric, and Antibacterial Sanitizing Disinfecting Alcohol Wipes.  EPA states that consumers wishing to purchase products to kill the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) should refer to the Agency’s list of disinfectants, instead of purchasing unregistered pesticides, because unregistered pesticides have not been evaluated for safety and efficacy by EPA.

In its announcement, EPA reminded the public that unregistered pesticides pose health risks to consumers, children, pets, and others who are exposed to the products.  Additionally, EPA advised consumers to dispose of the unregistered pesticides and disinfectants in accordance with local, state, and federal laws.  The announcement noted that pesticides and disinfectants intended for sale in the U.S. must be evaluated by EPA and have approved labeling with an EPA registration number according the requirements of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Antimicrobial Inert Ingredient QR Code/Website Link

EPA is now allowing companies to include a QR code or website link on their product labels to provide information on inert ingredients.  As of this publication date, this option is only available for antimicrobial pesticide products.  Providing this additional information is strictly voluntary for companies, with exception on a case-by-case basis for where it has been required.  Although voluntary, providing this information is encouraged for showing transparency.

EPA states that if a company chooses to disclose their inert ingredients, they should include all of them.  Any partial lists could mislead the consumer into believing it was a complete list.  The Agency also recommends listing ingredients in descending order of weight.

Pesticide producers should note that including a QR code or website link results in the information being subject to FIFRA and EPA review in order to ensure there is no violation of FIFRA’s provisions against misbranding (FIFRA sections 2(q) and 12(a)(1)(E)).  The companies including this information need to verify the its accuracy.  Companies must also submit an application to EPA for voluntary inert ingredient disclosure.  The application identifies the proposed changes on the product label detailing the QR code or website link, and includes a self-certification statement.  The self-certification statement includes acknowledgement that any false statements could lead to enforcement actions.   EPA’s announcement also mentions that once the Agency gains experience handling this type of labeling, they may allow inert ingredient disclosure applications to be included with other actions.

Amazon Creates New Restricted Substances List

In December 2020, Amazon announced they will avoid the intentional addition of chemicals in certain products in their U.S. and EU market.  These restrictions concern Amazon’s food contact packaging.  The chemicals targeted have carcinogenic, mutagenic, reproductive, and other toxicant properties.  Amazon also focused on chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative.  The chemicals on the restricted substances list include all PFAS, phthalates, and BPA.   This announcement comes shortly after a 2020 court case closed in December, in which the plaintiff alleged Amazon had PFAS in their disposable plates.

Amazon has updated their chemicals and restricted substances page on the website to reflect the announcement.  The company already seeks to avoid a number of chemicals in their Amazon brands of Private Brand Baby, Household Cleaning, Personal Care, and Beauty products, including formaldehyde, nonylphenols, parabens, and phthalates.