EPA Proposes Reforms to Chemical Review Process

May 17, 2023
Proposal removes low volume and exposure exemptions for new PFAS and other persistent chemicals.

On May 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed amendments to the regulations that govern the Agency’s review of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). According to the EPA, this will improve efficiency and align with the 2016 bipartisan TSCA amendments under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Under TSCA, the EPA is authorized to review the potential risks of new chemicals before they can enter U.S. commerce and, when necessary, putting safeguards in place to protect human health and the environment. The proposal also eliminates eligibility for exemptions from the full safety review process for new per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals.

The proposed amendments focus on aligning federal regulations with existing law, eliminating certain exemptions for PFAS and PBTs, and improving the efficiency of EPA’s review of new chemical submissions to foster innovation. The EPA shares more details on the proposal on its website.

PFAS has long been the target of the EPA, given the growing evidence that the chemicals contribute to human health issues, including cancer. Regulations are continually evolving, and chemical manufacturers will need to keep a close eye on where they stand to remain in compliance, notes Jonathan Katz, executive editor of Chemical Processing, in his article “Chemical Regulations: What to Watch in 2023.” Efforts to limit, ban or phase out production of PFAS continue to be the dominant regulatory issues on the table, he says.

“Congress expanded EPA’s authority to protect communities from dangerous chemicals, and it’s well past time to modernize the regulations that govern new chemicals, increase efficiency to foster innovation, and strengthen our commitment to ensuring that new chemicals can be used safely before they are allowed into commerce,” says Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff in a press release.