TSCA Tuesday: 5 Plastics Chemicals May Be Restricted

Posted on 1/30/2024 by Roger Marks

Updated 01/30/2024

US EPA will hold a webinar on February 20, 2024 from 1 to 4 PM ET during which the agency is interested to learn more about five chemical substances being considered as potential priorities for risk review under TSCA.

TSCA Tuesday: 5 Plastics Chemicals May Be Restricted

12/19/23—Five chemical substances used to manufacture a broad range of products—from petrochemicals to plastics & PVC to pharmaceuticals—may have their production, distribution, and use restricted over the next few years (or longer) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

EPA has moved to prioritize these five chemicals for risk evaluation under TSCA. A risk evaluation is a process by which EPA determines whether chemicals made or used in the US pose “unreasonable risks” to human health or the environment.

When EPA finds that a chemical does pose unreasonable risk, the law authorizes the agency to place restrictions on activities like manufacturing, processing, distribution, and use. Those restrictions range from added reporting or notification requirements to all-out prohibition or “ban” on all activities involving the chemical. 

EPA has taken the first step to prioritize these 5 chemicals for TSCA risk evaluation: 

  • Acetaldehyde (CASRN 75-07-0),
  • Acrylonitrile (CASRN 107-13-1),
  • Benzenamine (CASRN 62-53-3),
  • 4,4’-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) (MBOCA) (CASRN 101-14-4), and
  • Vinyl Chloride (CASRN 75-01-4).

TSCA Tuesday: 5 Plastics Chemicals May Be Restricted

Manufacturers use these chemicals to produce goods like plastics, resins, other chemicals, paints, and many others. The fifth substance on the list, vinyl chloride, was the chemical released in a large quantity during the derailment and hazmat release incident in Palestine, OH earlier this year.

Under TSCA, the process to designate a chemical as a high priority for risk evaluation takes one year and includes opportunities for input from industry stakeholders and the public. As it stands now, EPA "expects these chemicals to be designated as high-priority for risk evaluation" when the process is complete.  

The five chemicals listed above would join the list of 20 tagged as high priority in 2019. The announcement from EPA goes on to say that, moving forward, the Agency aims to initiate the prioritization process for five chemicals every year. 

Unreasonable Risk: 10 Out Of 10 So Far

EPA has completed ten chemical risk evaluations thus far and in ten-out-of-ten cases found that “unreasonable risk” exists. Already, EPA has followed-up several of those risk evaluations with TSCA prohibitions, new management standards, and worker protections.   

EPA started evaluating the risks of chemicals on the TSCA inventory shortly after 2016, when the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety in the 21st Century Act (i.e., LCSA or “Lautenberg Law”) reformed TSCA to add the risk evaluation procedures. 

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