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March 19, 2010

EPA Planning to Release More Chemical Action Plans

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On March 17, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is preparing action plans for nonylphenol/nonylphenol ethoxylate (NP/NPE), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), siloxanes, and diisocyanates. EPA is also preparing final action plans for the chemicals remaining on EPA’s initial list — bisphenol A and benzidine dyes. EPA chose the chemicals based on a range of criteria, including identification as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic; high production volume chemicals; chemicals in consumer products; chemicals of particular potential concern for children’s health because of reproductive or developmental toxicity; chemicals subject to review and potential action in international forums; chemicals found in human blood in biomonitoring programs; and chemicals in categories generally identified as being of potential concern in the new chemicals program. According to EPA, it intends to release a set of chemical action plans every four months, and anticipates releasing the next set of action plans in late Spring 2010. More information is available online.

Development of action plans for existing chemicals is part of EPA’s efforts to improve its current chemicals management program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). According to EPA, the most important component of the enhanced chemical management program involves:

  • Identifying chemicals that pose a concern to the public;
  • Moving quickly to evaluate them and determine what actions need to be taken to address the risks they may pose; and
  • Initiating appropriate action.

EPA’s actions may include initiating regulatory action to label, restrict, or ban a chemical, or to require the submission of additional data needed to determine the risk. If EPA determines that a chemical does not present a need for action, EPA states that it will make that information available.


The work on NP/NPE may follow up on the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics’ (OPPT) efforts under the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (available online), which encouraged voluntary use of safer surfactants. That effort, organized under OPPT’s Design for the Environment (DFE) Program, identified NPE surfactants as an example of a surfactant class that is not considered a safer surfactant. Under the forthcoming action plan, EPA may be shifting to a regulatory approach for these chemicals and it is interesting that EPA has described it as “NP/NPE,” which suggests that its efforts will focus on those specific substances and in that way deal with the class of surfactants from which they are made.

HBCD had been identified as a high priority under ChAMP (the Chemical Assessment and Management Program) and actions are likely to flow from that assessment (available online).

It remains to be seen what EPA has in mind for the siloxanes and diisocyanates, two potentially large and complex categories. Regarding the siloxanes, EPA has been assessing D4 and D5 as well as octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (OMCTS) and information on those efforts can be found on OPPT’s website. OPPT’s DfE Program has been implementing the Automotive Refinishing Partnership (available online), which focuses in part on diisocyanates and associated with that is an OPPT hazard profile on the diisocyanates (available online).