News Brief

BPA, Phthalates Won't Be EPA Chemicals of Concern

EPA withdraws two chemical safety proposals lost in limbo for years.

Two chemical safety rules sat for several years awaiting approval from the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, during which time Cass Sunstein (seen here speaking with President Obama) was Administrator.

Photo: The White House
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently withdrew two proposed rules regulating chemicals that it had submitted to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs several years ago. EPA says the rules are being addressed in other ways, but the Environmental Defense Fund and others see the recent action as a symptom of limited authority under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The first rule would have added eight phthalates—semi-volatile organic compounds and reproductive toxicants that are used to make PVC flexible—to EPA’s list of “chemicals of concern,” but EPA has instead designated them for further analysis. (So-called chemicals of concern are those with an EPA action plan for risk management; those undergoing further analysis are listed as TSCA Work Plan chemicals.) EPA has also eliminated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), carcinogenic and bioaccumulative compounds formerly used as flame retardants, from its chemicals of concern list, along with bisphenol-A (BPA), a component of epoxy resins that poses health risks as an endocrine disruptor and possible obesogen.

The second rule was designed to increase product transparency by preventing any chemical associated with health and safety studies from being eligible for confidential “trade secret” status unless protected under patenting rules.

The proposals sat for White House approval for three and two years respectively, though the process is supposed to take 90 days. The holdup drew the critical eye of watchdog groups and garnered support for the Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013, a proposed overhaul of TSCA.

Published November 1, 2013

Pearson, C. (2013, November 1). BPA, Phthalates Won't Be EPA Chemicals of Concern. Retrieved from

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October 21, 2013 - 6:14 pm

perfect, thanks so much
lot of other background there, too

October 21, 2013 - 6:07 pm

Joel, EPA did not announce the changes with a press release. The links go to EPA web pages and .gov rulemaking pages.

October 21, 2013 - 4:01 pm

Which one of these links goes directly to the EPA press release ? The action plan link ? Sorry if i'm staring right at it. Thanks