The EPA released last Friday the agency’s draft strategy for reviewing health and environmental risks in communities that reside near facilities that emit chemicals under review by the EPA. TSCA. The “Isolated Community Screening Strategy” is an initial and explicit injection of the principles of “environmental justice” into the field of chemical risk assessment and management. The Biden administration has identified and consistently invokes EE as a central goal and priority of the EPA.
“To protect human health and the environment, we must assess and understand all chemical exposures of communities, especially historically underserved communities that have been disproportionately exposed to pollution for generations,”
-Michal Freedhoff, EPA Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
Specifically, the “TSCA Screening Level Approach for Assessing Ambient Air and Water Exposures to Fenceline Communities” project is a screening level methodology for assessing potential exposures and risks to human health near (1) facilities with emissions atmospheric discharges of chemicals subject to risk assessment under TSCA section 6, and (2) bodies of water receiving direct or indirect discharges of chemicals subject to risk assessment under Section 6 of TSCA. The EPA defines “bounded communities” as follows:
Members of the general population who are in close proximity to air-emitting facilities or a receiving water body, and who therefore may be disproportionately exposed to a chemical under risk assessment. hazards under TSCA Section 6. transmitting source. For the waterway, proximity does not refer to a specific distance measured from a receiving water body, but rather to members of the general population who may interact with the receiving water body and may therefore be exposed.
In particular, the EPA intends to apply the methodology to reassess the risks of seven of the ten chemicals for which the agency relatively recently published TSCA risk assessments: 1-bromopropane (1-BP ), methylene chloride (MC), n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethylene and perchlorethylene, and 1,4-dioxane. The draft strategy includes initial “case studies” applying the strategy to 1-BP, MC and NMP as examples of how the strategy is supposed to work.
For future TSCA risk assessments, including the 20 chemicals currently under risk assessment, the EPA plans to “expand this first version of the framework to include a method to address potential broader concerns.” in environmental justice and cumulative or aggregate exposures to chemicals”.
Comments on the draft strategy are due February 22, and the agency’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) will hold a public meeting, virtually March 15-17, to peer review the methodology. A copy of the strategy and further information is available at EPA website.