Workers Health & Safety Centre

U.S. EPA announces list of chemicals for review and action

U.S. EPA announces list of chemicals for review and action
Asbestos and trichloroethylene are among 10 chemicals the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is targeting for action following changes to its mandate.
Recent amendments to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate existing chemicals to determine if they “present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” Evaluations must be completed within three years. If the EPA determines a substance presents an unreasonable risk, the EPA must mitigate the risks within two years. This may involve restrictions on use, phase-outs and outright bans.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is an industrial solvent often used as a degreasing agent and also used to make other chemicals. Based upon known health risks, the EPA is also proposing a specific ban on the use of TCE as an aerosol degreaser and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities. Classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, TCE is linked to kidney cancer. It was also recently reviewed and added to the U.S. National Toxicology Program 14th Report on Carcinogens.
Asbestos is a well-known human carcinogen. Some 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. It’s also estimated that about half of the deaths from occupational cancer result from exposure to asbestos.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared asbestos a human carcinogen in 1987. In 1989 the EPA used the TSCA to ban most asbestos-containing products but the ban was overturned in court several years later.
Canada’s federal government recently announced an asbestos ban after mounting pressure from labour, health, environmental and community groups and from affected workers and their families. The government has committed to creating new regulations to ban the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Canada joins 55 other countries that have already banned asbestos. Major nations yet to impose complete bans include China, Russia, India and the United States.
The WHSC offers a number of training programs and resources to help workplaces better understand their legal duties and responsibilities related to workplace hazards including toxic substances. Many of these same programs offer essential insight into the tools and information needed to identify and control or eliminate harmful workplace toxins.
To learn more:
Call:    1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative
Other related resources:
EPA Names First Chemicals for Review Under New TSCA Legislation
CAREX Canada profile on trichloroethylene
Trichloroethylene (TCE) Toxics Use Reduction Institute
Occupational Cancer Research Centre asbestos resources