In an article published on March 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed “a list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process,” as required by the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rules (FPF reported). The initiation of the TSCA prioritization process was also notified to the Federal Register on March 21, 2019. Comments and “relevant information” on the 40 substances can be submitted during the three-month comment period, which is open until June 19, 2019.

Twenty of these 40 chemicals are listed “as candidates for designation as High Priority Substances for risk evaluation,” while the remaining 20 chemicals are “candidates for designation as Low Priority Substances for risk evaluation.” Once the prioritization is complete, “chemicals designated as high priority will begin a three-year risk evaluation process to determine if the chemical, under the conditions of use, presents an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment.” For the low priority chemicals, “further risk evaluation is not warranted at this time,” the EPA explained.

The 20 candidates for low priority designation “have been selected from EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, which includes chemicals that have been evaluated and determined to meet EPA’s safer choice criteria,” the EPA summarized.

The 20 candidates for high priority designation include:

  • seven chlorinated solvents, five of them relevant for food contact materials (FCM), namely p-dichlorobenzene (CAS 106-46-7), 1,2-dichloroethane (CAS 107-06-2), o-dichlorobenzene (CAS 95-50-1), 1,1,2-trichloroethane (CAS 79-00-5), and 1,2-dichloropropane (CAS 78-87-5);
  • five FCM-relevant phthalates that were also prioritized in the “Hazardous chemicals in plastic packaging” project coordinated by Food Packaging Forum (FPF reported), namely: butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP, CAS 85-68-7), di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7), dibuty phthalate (DBP, CAS 84-74-2), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP, CAS 84-69-5) and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCP, CAS 84-61-7);
  • a phthalate precursor substance, phthalic anhydride (CAS 85-44-9), also used in FCMs;
  • three halogenated flame retardants, all of which are FCM-relevant: 2,2’,6,6’-tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA, CAS 79-94-7), tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP, CAS 115-96-8), and phosphoric acid, triphenyl ester (TPP, CAS 115-86-6);
  • two substances used as chemical intermediates in polymer synthesis, of which 1,3-butadiene (CAS 106-99-0) is widely used in FCM production;
  • formaldehyde (CAS 50-00-0), which is a chemical intermediate and preservative also used in FCMs among multiple other uses; and
  • the synthetic musk 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta [g]-2-benzopyran (HHCB, CAS 1222-05-5), which has been identified by the EPA’s Chemical and Products Database (CPDat) as being relevant for food service and food production, in addition to its widespread use in personal care and household products.

The EPA also informed that it has received a “manufacturer request for a risk evaluation of two additional phthalates,” which is currently being considered for a potential inclusion in this prioritization round.

The industry association American Chemistry Council commented that it “applauds EPA’s progress toward timely implementation of TSCA,” but wishes to stress that, for the prioritized substances, “neither this announcement nor any final high priority designation represents a finding of risk by EPA.” This is because the actual risk will only first be evaluated in the subsequent TSCA assessment.

The non-governmental organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called the designation of formaldehyde as a high priority candidate for TSCA risk evaluation a “confusing and deceptive action.” As Kelly Franklin summarized in an article published on March 21, 2019 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch,  consumer advocacy groups see this move as a “tactic that will delay action” on formaldehyde, because it could mean that the current “controversial” evaluation of this substance by the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) “will never be finalized.”

Read more

EPA (March 20, 2019). “Reaching another TSCA milestone, EPA identifies 40 chemicals to prioritize for risk evaluation.

Federal Register (March 21, 2019). “Initiation of prioritization under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).” A notice by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kelly Franklin (March 20, 2019). “EPA names priority candidates for TSCA evaluations.Chemical Watch

ACC (March 20, 2019). “ACC applauds EPA’s progress toward timely implementation of TSCA with its prioritization announcement.

American Chemistry (March 20, 2019). “ACC welcomes release of TSCA prioritization candidates.American Chemistry Matters

EDF Blogs (March 20, 2019). “EPA’s naming of formaldehyde as a candidate for high priority under TSCA raises serious concerns.Environmental Defense Fund

Kelly Franklin (March 21, 2019). “NGOs blast TSCA formaldehyde prioritization as ‘confusing and deceptive.’Chemical Watch

American Chemistry (March 27, 2019). “Part I – FORMALDEHYDE: The science, the truth, and the industry’s commitment to objective chemical assessments.American Chemistry Matters

American Chemistry (March 28, 2019). “Part II – FORMALDEHYDE: The science, the truth, and the industry’s commitment to objective chemical assessments.American Chemistry Matters

American Chemistry (March 27, 2019). “Part III – FORMALDEHYDE: The science, the truth, and the industry’s commitment to objective chemical assessments.American Chemistry Matters

Rebecca Trager (March 28, 2019). “US lists formaldehyde, flame retardents as ‘high priority’ for review.Chemistry World


EPA (March 20, 2019). “List of chemicals undergoing prioritization.