US begins assessment of 23 chemicals, chiefly flame retardants

27 March 2013 18:49  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US will begin risk assessments for 23 commonly used chemicals with a specific focus on flame retardants, federal officials said on Wednesday, a process that could result in banning one or another substance or limiting its use.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that it was initiating review action on the 23 substances as part of its work plan under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

TSCA is the principal US law governing chemicals in commerce, and the 37-year-old statute is facing a contentious legislative revision in Congress.

In announcing the risk assessments, the agency noted that “flame retardants are widely used in products such as household furniture, textiles and electronic equipment”.

“Some flame retardant chemicals can persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in people and animals, and have been shown to cause neurological development effects in animals,” EPA said.

EPA acting assistant administrator James Jones said that the agency “is committed to more fully understanding the potential risks of flame retardant chemicals, taking action if warranted, and identifying safer substitutes when possible”.

Jones said that in reviewing the array of fire-inhibiting substances available, EPA identified approximately 50 flame retardant chemicals “that are unlikely to pose a risk to human health, making them possible substitutes for more toxic flame retardant chemicals”.

The agency invited public comment on the chemicals selected for risk assessment. Comments to EPA on the matter must be submitted by 30 May.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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