The Importance of use and exposure: Acting as a trusted partner

Written on: August 1, 2018 by Nicholas Georges

Consumers and workers should be able to feel confident that regulations are developed based on the best available science. We all benefit when risk evaluation relies on data and information, not perception or fear.

Under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandated to evaluate existing chemicals using risk-based assessments in a transparent manner with clear deadlines. These assessments determine whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment under the “conditions of use,” including an unreasonable risk to a relevant potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation. If the EPA finds that a chemical poses an unreasonable risk at any stage of that chemical’s lifecycle, EPA is required by TSCA to reduce those risks through regulation, which could restrict or end the use of a chemical.

The EPA has selected the following 10 chemicals to undergo the first set of risk evaluations: Asbestos, 1-Bromopropane, Carbon Tetrachloride, 1,4-Dioxane, Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), Methylene Chloride, N-Methylpyrrolidone, Perchloroethylene, Pigment Violet 29 and Trichloroethylene. To ensure that any regulations developed based upon these risk evaluations come from the best available science, our industry must work collaboratively with the EPA during its process to make sure that it has the most up-to-date and complete information for use in their assessments.

This is especially true for product manufacturers, who have deep expertise in the “conditions of use” for their products.

Conditions of use

“Conditions of use” is an important term because these are the circumstances in which a chemical substance is intended, known or reasonably foreseen to be manufactured, processed, distributed in commerce, used or disposed of. The term “exposure” is the contact made between a chemical, physical or biological agent and the outer boundary of an organism.

The industry knows the products they manufacture, the ingredients they utilize and how those products should be used better than anyone else. It is critical that companies up and down the supply chain—both suppliers and manufacturers—share the data that the EPA will need to properly perform its risk evaluation on the conditions of use of interest (e.g., hazard, exposure, potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations), in addition to other information.

We have the opportunity to engage with the EPA early and throughout its process to share expertise, data and act as a trusted partner so that it can focus their resources where it should and have an improved understanding of the chemicals under review.

If suppliers and manufacturers do not collaboratively share data, the EPA could be making decisions based on incomplete information. You and your company do not have to undertake these risk evaluations on your own. Industry can and should work together within trade associations and with pertinent consortia to gather or develop the data that is required for this process. A collaborative and organized data development and collection process will ultimately benefit the entire industry, especially as the EPA grows the list of chemicals it is evaluating.

How we engage as an industry during this first round of evaluations will set the tone for those to come. Our industry’s reputation as a trusted and collaborative partner of the EPA is of the utmost importance and will no doubt play an important role as future regulations are discussed and promulgated.

HCPA has been actively involved in the EPA’s risk evaluations by participating in stakeholder meetings, reviewing materials and submitting comments, meeting face-to-face with the EPA and giving presentations to ensure the agency is fully aware of association members’ products and interests. HCPA will continue to represent our members as the evaluations progress, and I encourage all of you to join us as we work with EPA to ensure a business environment that fosters growth and innovation.  SPRAY