- Flame Retardants
On 27 march 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will begin assessments on 23 commonly used chemicals, with a specific focus on flame retardants, in order to more fully understand any potential risks to people’s health and the environment. This effort is part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identifies commonly used chemicals for risk assessment. Flame retardants are widely used in household furniture, textiles, and electronic equipment. Some flame retardants can persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in people and animals, and have been shown to cause neurological developmental effects in animals. EPA will begin evaluating 20 flame retardants, conducting full risk assessments for four of the flame retardants, three of which are on the TSCA Work Plan, and one that was the subject of an Action Plan development under TSCA. In addition, eight other flame retardants will be assessed by grouping flame retardants with similar characteristics together with the chemicals targeted for full assessment. EPA will use the information from these assessments to better understand the other chemicals in the group, which currently lack sufficient data for a full risk assessment. EPA will also begin analyzing how eight of the 20 flame retardants transform and move in the environment.
During its review of data on flame retardants in commerce, EPA also identified approximately 50 flame retardants that are unlikely to pose a risk to human health, making them possible substitutes for more toxic flame retardants. As EPA develops its draft risk assessments, the agency will use information that is available through a wide range of publicly available data sources. EPA also encourages submission of additional relevant information on these chemicals, such as unpublished studies and information on uses and potential exposures. This information should be submitted by May 30, 2013, to ensure that it is included in the agency’s review.
Consistent with its TSCA work plan and action plans, in 2013, EPA will conduct full risk assessments on TBB (2-ethylhexyl ester 2,3,4,5- tetrabromobenzoate), TBPH (2-ethylhexyl)-3,4,5,6 tetrabromophthalate), TCEP (tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate) and HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane). Information from each of those assessments will be used to determine what can be understood about the biological and environmental behavior of other chemicals in the respective structure-based groups, which currently lack sufficient data for a full risk assessment.
In 2013, EPA also will begin environmental fate investigations of eight flame retardants that, using the Work Plan prioritization methodology, ranked high for persistence, bioaccumulation and/or exposure potential, but for which there are not adequate data to conduct risk assessments. These investigations will also help EPA focus its flame retardant data needs.