"What the EPA's "Chemicals of Concern" Plans Really Mean"

"In an unusual exercise of its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on December 30 the establishment of a "chemicals of concern" list and action plans that could prompt restrictions on four types of synthetic chemicals used widely in manufacturing and consumer products, including phthalates used to make flexible plastics, often for toys, household products and medical equipment.

Of the compounds covered in the action plans—which also include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)—phthalates and PBDEs will be listed as "chemicals of concern." The PFCs and paraffins will be addressed under other TSCA provisions that could also result in restrictions.

These four types of chemicals, the EPA said, raise "serious environmental or health concerns" and in some cases "may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment."

This is a big deal because it is the first time since TSCA was passed in 1976 that the EPA has made such a move."

Elizabeth Grossman reports for Scientific American January 11, 2010.

Source: Scientific American, 01/12/2010