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EPA Updates Toxic Chemical List for First Time in 40 Years

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) inventory—its first major one in 40 years.

As a result, 47 percent, or less than half, of the 86,228 chemicals on the inventory are actively being manufactured, processed or imported in the United States.

“It’s important for us to know which chemicals are actually in use today,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “This will help us with our work prioritizing chemicals, evaluating and addressing risks. This information also increases transparency to the public.”

The update was sorely needed. As recently as 2018, the TSCA inventory showed more than 86,000 substances available for commercial production and use in the U.S. market. These may include dyes and other textile agents.

In addition, more than 82 percent (32,898) of the chemicals in commerce have identities that are not Confidential Business Information (CBI), which increases public access to additional information about them. For the fewer than 20 percent of chemicals masked by confidential identities, the EPA is developing a system to review and substantiate all CBI claims to ensure they are legitimate.

To make its revisions, the EPA relied on thousands of chemical manufacturers and processors who sent in information about the chemicals that were manufactured, imported or processed in the United States over a period of 10 years ending June 21, 2016. From August 2017 to October 2018, the agency received more than 90,000 responses, which it hails as a “significant reporting effort” by the industry.