EPA begins process to regulate common toxic chemicals
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a list of toxic chemicals that will be the first reviewed under a recently enacted law that gives regulators increased authority to ban substances shown to endanger human health.
EPA’s move comes after a key revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act that passed Congress earlier this year with broad bipartisan support. The list includes such common chemicals as asbestos and trichloroethylene that have for decades been known to cause cancer, yet EPA lacked the legal authority necessary to ban their use.
Over the next three years EPA will study whether the listed chemicals present an “unreasonable risk to humans and the environment.” The agency will then have another two years to mitigate that risk through new regulations, which could include banning the chemicals from use in the United States.
Once EPA completes its review of the initial 10 chemicals, studies will begin on dozens of other suspect chemicals. With tens of thousands of chemicals manufactured each year within the United States or imported from other countries, EPA is prioritizing those that are the most dangerous and widely used.
“Under the new law, we now have the power to require safety reviews of all chemicals in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We can ensure the public that we will deliver on the promise to better protect public health and the environment.”