The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will begin assessments on 23 commonly used chemicals, with a specific focus on flame retardant chemicals, in order to more fully understand any potential risks to people’s health and the environment. This effort is part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identifies commonly used chemicals for risk assessment.
Flame retardants can be found in a wide variety of products, including furniture, textiles, and electronics. Some flame retardant chemicals can persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in people and animals, and have been shown to cause neurological developmental effects in animals.
“EPA is committed to more fully understanding the potential risks of flame retardant chemicals, taking action if warranted, and identifying safer substitutes when possible,” said James J. Jones, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Though today’s announcement represents a significant step forward on chemical safety, it’s important to remember that TSCA, this country’s chemicals management legislation, remains in dire need of reform in order to ensure that all Americans are protected from toxic chemicals in their environment.”
Twenty flame retardant chemicals will be evaluated. EPA will conduct full risk assessments for four of the flame retardants, three of which are on the TSCA Work Plan, and one that was the subject of an Action Plan development under TSCA. In addition, the agency will assess eight other flame retardants by grouping those with similar characteristics together with the chemicals targeted for full assessment. The information from these assessments will be used to better understand the other chemicals in the group, which currently lack sufficient data for a full risk assessment. Eight additional chemicals will be analyzed for how they transform and move in the environment.
EPA has also identified nearly 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 will use information that is available through a wide range of publicly available data sources. EPA also encourages submission of additional relevant information on these chemicals, such as unpublished studies and information on uses and potential exposures. This information should be submitted by May 30 to ensure that it is included in the agency’s review. Submissions can be made here.