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Toxic Substances Control Act Comments

We recently submitted two sets of comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on issues related to the implementation of the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The first comment letter focuses on EPA’s proposed restrictions on the manufacture, processing, and distribution of trichloroethylene (TCE) for use in aerosol degreasing and in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities. As required by TSCA, EPA conducted an economic analysis of its proposed restrictions and concluded that they would be overwhelmingly cost-benefit justified. Our comments offer recommendations for strengthening this analysis. We suggest that EPA clarify the relative costs and benefits of a ban on TCE use compared to a rule limiting exposure to TCE; discuss how and whether the proposed restrictions could affect the price of substitute products; and clarify the estimated benefits of substituting methylene chloride-based spot-removal products for TCE-based products.

Our second comment letter focuses on EPA’s proposed process for conducting future risk evaluations under the amended TSCA. While EPA is not permitted to consider costs when deciding whether a chemical substance poses an “unreasonable risk,” we remind the agency that it must take costs and benefits into account when deciding how stringently to regulate each substance. Additionally, we urge the agency to abandon the problematic margin-of-exposure approach to estimating noncancer risks and instead implement a consistent approach to evaluating cancer and noncancer risks that includes assessment of background exposures, possible vulnerable populations, and exposure pathways that might affect the dose-response relationship.