The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was signed into law on June 22 and received remarkable bipartisan and diverse support from members of Congress, the chemical industry and environmental groups. This new law pushes up the deadline by which the EPA must evaluate the risk of hazardous chemicals in products on the market, like formaldehyde. If the EPA determines a chemical is unsafe, the agency must impose restrictions.
EPA’s toolbox of restrictions includes banning the chemical, phasing it out, imposing limits on its use, or requiring warnings and specific instructions. Virtually every EPA decision will be subject to public review and comment.
The agency’s first deadline is mid-December 2016 when the EPA must select ten chemicals from the 90 chemicals on the 2014 Work Plan for Chemical Assessment for risk evaluation.
The Work Plan, initially evaluated in 2012 and updated in 2014, lists those chemicals that EPA determined, because of their toxicity, require assessment on a priority basis. Despite the agency’s goals, since 2012, EPA has conducted only four assessments. Formaldehyde has been on the list since 2012, but it has not been assessed.
While the new law does not specify criteria for selection of the top ten, formaldehyde clearly meets well-recognized risk-based criteria. It is one of only ten known carcinogens on the Work Plan. It also is ranked in the highest category for two of the three other factors.
Even if formaldehyde is not on the top ten, its place on the Work Plan assures that EPA (or OSHA) will evaluate its risk sometime soon. EPA has the authority to defer regulation of formaldehyde to OSHA.
NFDA will continue to keep you informed of developments impacting formaldehyde, including the status of formaldehyde regulation and whether OSHA or EPA will act first.