US EPA: 2013 Risk Assessment for Flame Retardant Chemicals

March 27, 2013

In March of 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the beginning of assessments of 23 commonly used chemicals to determine any potential risks to both the environment and to the public. The plan, which will focus primarily on flame retardant chemicals, is part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, an effort to identify commonly used chemicals for risk assessment.

Flame retardant chemicals are commonly used for many household products, such as furniture, electronic equipment and textiles. These chemicals have been known to bioaccumulate in people and animals, and have been proven to cause neurological developmental effects in animals.

Acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, James J. Jones, has raised concerns regarding TSCA's effectiveness: "Though today's announcement represents a significant step forward on chemical safety, it's important to remember that TSCA... remains in dire need of reform in order to ensure that all Americans are protected from toxic chemicals in their environment."

The initial risk assessment will focus on 20 flame retardant chemicals, three of which are on the TSCA Work Plan. By conducting risk assessments on flame retardant chemicals with similar characteristics, EPA aim to increase their understanding of other chemicals within the same group. Currently, EPA lacks the necessary data to perform a full risk assessment.

EPA highlighted eight of the 20 flame retardant chemicals for analysis based on their bioaccumulative properties, the likelihood that the chemical will persist in the environment, and if they have a high risk of potential exposure.

In the search for suitable replacements to the flame retardant chemicals that pose health and/or environmental risks, EPA has identified 50 known chemicals that are have a minimal risk to human health.

During the risk assessment process, EPA will gather information from previously published sources, as well as encouraging submissions from the public of relevant data on flame retardant chemicals. All submissions, however, must be submitted by May 30, 2013.

To submit relevant data regarding the listed flame retardant chemicals, or for more information, see the .

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