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EPA Releases Final TSCA Risk Eval for Perchloroethylene

Posted on 12/15/2020 by Roger Marks

Update 07/07/2022
EPA is working to revise many of the TSCA chemical risk determinations completed in 2020. A draft of the revised PCE Risk Determination was announced on June 30, 2022. EPA will accept public comments on the draft revision until August 1. 

US EPA released the results of its chemical risk evaluations for Perchloroethylene (PCE) on December 14, 2020.

EPA analyzed conditions of the chemical’s use across manufacturing, processing, industrial/commercial uses, consumer uses, and disposal. Of the sixty-one conditions of use EPA evaluated, fifty-nine of them posed unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders—including disposal of PCE.

EPA concluded that PCE poses an environmental hazard to aquatic life. To evaluate the risk posed to the environment, EPA studied 199 different types of releases and modeled surface water concentrations of PCE.

EPA Releases Final TSCA Risk Eval for Perchloroethylene

What is Perchloroethylene (PCE)?

Perchloroethylene or PCE (CASRN 127-18-4) is a nonflammable colorless liquid with the molecular formula C2Cl4.

The most common use of PCE is in the production of fluorinated compounds (e.g., HFCs and HCFCs) for industrial gas manufacturing. It is also used as a solvent in dry cleaning and degreasing. Commercial and consumer products that contain PCE include adhesives, brake cleaners, aerosol lubricants, and sealants. PCE is also used in cleaning products like stone polish and stainless-steel polish.

Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) data submitted by chemical manufacturers and importers in 2016 show yearly aggregate production of between 324 and 388 million pounds between 2012 and 2015.

What is a TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluation?

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century (LCSA) amended TSCA in 2016. The amended law requires EPA to evaluate the risks of all chemicals on the TSCA inventory. EPA is expected to be at work on twenty chemical risk evaluations at any given time. 

The TSCA risk evaluation for PCE is the latest sign of EPA’ steady progress in meeting their statutory responsibilities. In the past six months, EPA has released final risk evaluations for Carbon Tetrachloride, HBCD, 1-bromopropane, trichloroethylene (TCE). and Methylene Chloride.

What Will EPA Do Next?

Once EPA identifies unreasonable risk to human health or the environment for a chemical, TSCA (as amended) requires the EPA to establish regulations to mitigate or remove the unreasonable risk.

The agency’s next step is to write those regulations, which could impose limits on manufacturing, processing, using, storing, or disposing of the chemical. As with most environmental regulations, the EPA will have to publish a proposed version of the rule first and open up public comment before revising and promulgating the final rule.

LCSA allows the EPA two years from the publication of the final risk evaluation to complete the risk management portion of the process.

Since the final risk evaluation of PCE was published on December 14, 2020, the risk management regulations for PCE should be promulgated no later than December 14, 2022.

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Tags: chemical risk evaluation, TSCA

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