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The first batch of draft risk assessments released by the Environmental Protection Agency Jan. 4 as part of a broad plan to review existing chemicals found some uses of three chemicals pose potential health concerns.

The five chemicals were among 83 EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) said it would analyze as part of a “work plan” announced in March 2012 (36 CRR 269, 3/5/12).

When used as a paint stripper, methylene chloride, also known as dichloromethane (DCM), and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) pose potential inhalation or dermal health concerns for some workers and consumers, OPPT said.

EPA’s chemicals office focused on environmental issues for the remaining two chemicals–antimony trioxide (ATO, which is used in halogenated flame retardants) and 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethylcyclopenta-y-2-benzopyran (HHCB, a fragrance in commercial and consumer products)–and concluded both compounds posed a “low concern” for ecological health.

After the draft assessments are published in the Federal Register and public comment is gathered, they will be peer reviewed. EPA has classified the draft assesments as “influential” analyses, despite a request by four Senate Republicans and the American Chemistry Council to designate the risk assessments as “highly influential scientific assessments”

The draft risk assessments illustrate a “push-pull” dynamic chemical manufacturers are likely to continue facing in 2013 as EPA “pushes out” preliminary conclusions about chemicals based on available data as a means of “pulling in” toxicity and exposure data from manufacturers, Jim Aidala, a senior government consultant with Bergeson & Campbell P.C. and former EPA assistant administrator of prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, previously told BNA.

EPA plans to conduct assessments on another 18 chemicals, including three flame retardants, five chlorinated hydrocarbons, and four fragrance chemicals, in 2013 and 2014 (106 DEN A-6, 6/4/12).

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