In the June 24, 2020 edition of the Federal Register, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it finalized the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for methylene chloride. This is the first completed risk evaluation of the new process mandated by the 2016 modifications to TSCA.
EPA found unreasonable risks of injury to human health, but did not find unreasonable risks of injury to the environment. As a result, EPA is required to undertake risk management actions to ensure safe use of the chemical to protect human health.
Risks to Human Health
In evaluating risks, EPA considered the hazards and exposure, magnitude of risk, exposed population, severity of the hazard, uncertainties, and other factors. No unreasonable risks to the environment were found from any conditions of use. The impact of methylene chloride was assessed on aquatic species (fish, amphibians) and aquatic plants through surface water and sediment exposures.
However, EPA did find unreasonable risks to human health for 47 out of 53 conditions of use of methylene chloride. EPA found unreasonable risks to consumers from all consumer uses of methylene chloride. Common consumer uses include:
- Aerosol degreasers/cleaners
- Paint brush cleaners
- Arts and crafts glue
- Automobile care products
Risks to consumers can come from short-term inhalation and dermal exposure. EPA found unreasonable risks to workers from most commercial uses of methylene chloride, including workers near but not in direct contact with the chemical.
As required by TSCA, EPA will next propose and take public comments on actions to address the unreasonable risks identified in the risk evaluation. EPA must finalize those actions within two years of completing the final risk evaluation. The proposed regulations could include prohibitions or requirements that limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of methylene chloride.
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