TSCA Week Ahead

The Week Ahead

Former NIEHS Head Talks PFAS Response; Court Eyes New Fluoride Petition

January 18, 2022

A former top federal health official will headline an event examining EPA’s efforts to study and address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through TSCA and other laws. Environmentalists who recently announced plans to renew their long-running TSCA petition seeking new limits on drinking water fluoridation are set to appear in court to explain their next steps.

PFAS

Linda Birnbaum, the former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), will speak at a Jan. 18 Michigan State University webinar on “The Challenge of PFAS in the United States.” The session is the first in a three-part series of discussions on PFAS policy in the United States and Canada. It comes after Birnbaum told Inside TSCA that EPA’s inconsistent definitions of the chemical class between its toxics and research offices is complicating its response to contamination.

Background Reading: Birnbaum Says PFAS Petition Clash Shows Need For Unified Definition

Fluoride

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has set a Jan. 18 status hearing in Food & Water Watch, Inc. (FWW), et al., v. EPA, environmentalists’ long-pending suit over EPA’s denials of two Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) petitions seeking a ban on drinking water fluoridation, after the suit was stayed for much of the past year to await new research on fluoride’s neurotoxic properties.

FWW and its allies last week told the court they intend to file a third, “supplemental” petition with EPA after the National Toxicology Program (NTP) releases a new report on fluoride -- which could come as soon as March. The hearing will be Judge Edward Chen’s first chance to question the parties on that path forward, after he has repeatedly held off on ruling in the case following two previous trials.

Background Reading: Groups Seeking Fluoridation Ban Aim To File Third TSCA Petition In March

Chemical Test Methods

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel commissioned by EPA to compare chemical tests based on new approach methodologies (NAMs) with traditional animal testing will hold a closed-door meeting on Jan. 21. Officials are seeking NAS’ input to inform how they implement provisions in the 2016 TSCA reforms law that direct EPA to bolster NAMs as a way to reduce live animal testing.

Background Reading: EPA Seeks ‘Meaningful’ Goal As It Drops Plan To End Animal Testing By 2035

Chemicals Policy

The National Association of Chemical Distributors will host a Jan. 20 webinar on its “legislative and regulatory outlook” for 2022, including steps agencies and Congress could take to remedy supply-chain concerns as well as likely changes to hazard communication mandates for toxic or dangerous chemicals.

Background Reading: Industry Debates TSCA Reviews’ Role In Broad Supply Chain Slowdown

Looking Ahead

PFAS Testing

Jan. 28 is the deadline for environmentalists and EPA to file motions on how to move forward with a suit over six groups’ closely watched TSCA petition seeking toxicity tests on 54 PFAS that have been detected in North Carolina waters and linked to a nearby Chemours plant.

EPA on Dec. 28 formally granted the petition -- reversing a Trump-era denial -- but its response promises no new testing beyond a previously-announced TSCA plan the environmental groups and their allies had already argued was insufficient to meet their needs, drawing criticism and threats of renewed litigation from the petitioners.

Background Reading: Groups Charge EPA’s Grant Of PFAS Test Petition Lacks ‘Empirical’ Basis

NAMs

NTP’s Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods will host a Jan. 25 webinar on the use of NAMs to assess developmental neurotoxicity. Researchers and chemical-safety groups have recently ramped up calls for greater focus on chemicals’ developmental harms, based in part on a raft of studies showing such risks at much lower exposure levels than previous, animal-based tests indicated.

Background Reading: Researchers Urge Mandatory DNT Toxicity Testing For New Chemicals

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