EPA Working to Reduce Backlog of New Chemicals Awaiting Approval
The Environmental Protection Agency announced June 5 that it has cut by half, from roughly 300 to 150, the number of new chemical submissions being reviewed under the Toxic Substances Control Act and plans to fully eliminate the backlog by the end of July. The agency notes that this effort is the result of prioritizing and implementing process efficiencies such as grouping the review of similar chemicals.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amended how requests for new chemicals (called pre-manufacture notices, or PMNs) would be reviewed by the EPA, requiring that the agency make an affirmative finding on whether a new chemical presents an unreasonable risk and addressing that unreasonable risk before allowing it to be commercialized. The EPA reviews about 1,000 new chemicals every year and must complete the review of each submission within a specified timeframe, resulting in about 300 chemicals under review at any given time. By January 2017, the number under review had grown to about 600 but the EPA is working to get the number of submissions under review back to the baseline.