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Trichloroethylene: EPA seeks comment on revised draft risk evaluation

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Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comment until Aug. 8 on a draft revised final risk evaluation that states the toxic chemical trichloroethylene, as a whole chemical substance, poses “unreasonable risk” to workers under certain conditions.

EPA released the original final risk evaluation in November 2020. According to a notice published in the July 7 Federal Register, trichloroethylene – also known as TCE – poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in manufacturing, vapor and liquid degreasing, and spot removing in laundry. It’s also used in dishwashing products and as a solvent in brake and parts cleaning, recycling, and disposal.

In 2014, EPA determined that TCE may cause cancer, developmental and neurological effects, and toxicity to the liver, among other adverse health effects. The substance is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

 

The revision aligns with EPA’s June 2021 announcement to change certain aspects of the process under the Lautenberg Act with the objective of ensuring “the public is protected from unreasonable risks from chemicals in a way that is supported by science and the law.”

A corresponding action to that end includes using a “whole substance” approach when determining unreasonable risk – rather than basing determinations on separate conditions of use – as well as revisiting the assumption that personal protective equipment is always provided and worn by workers when making risk determinations.

EPA says removing this assumption “would not result in additional conditions of use” that prompt the unreasonable risk determination.

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