EPA Designates High-Priority Substances

Posted on: January 2, 2020

by John J. Kowalski, CHMM

Photo of a container of hazardous chemicals - Help the DIW by providing comments in regard to the DIW proposed amendmentOn December 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) published a notice designating 20 chemical substances as High-Priority Substances for risk evaluation under Section 6(b) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  A designation of a chemical substance as a High-Priority Substance does not constitute a finding of unreasonable risk.  Rather, it initiates a risk evaluation process for the chemical substance.  This is a three-year process that will culminate in a finding of whether or not the chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment under its conditions of use.

The 20 chemicals that will undergo risk evaluations consist of seven chlorinated solvents, six phthalates, four flame retardants, formaldehyde, a fragrance additive, and a polymer precursor.  The next steps for these chemicals are set forth in TSCA’s procedures for risk evaluation, which are codified at 40 CFR Part 702, Subpart B.  The first includes taking public comments on draft scoping documents for each of these 20 chemicals.  EPA plans to finalize these scoping documents by June 2020.  The Agency will also take public comments on the draft risk evaluations for these chemicals and will finalize them after considering the public comments that it receives.

Manufacturers and importers of the 20 High-Priority Substances will be subject to risk evaluation fees under the TSCA fees rule.  (See our article dated October 24, 2018 for more information on that rule.)  In a conference call on December 19, 2019, EPA stated that it plans to release and solicit comments on a draft list of manufacturers and importers subject to these fees in early to mid-January 2020.  In a separate but related action, the Agency stated, in a news release dated December 20, 2019, that it is still reviewing public comments on the 20 low-priority chemicals proposed in August 2019 and that it will finalize the list of low-priority chemicals in early 2020.

Recommended Action Items

  • Consider participating in the risk evaluation process for the 20 High-Priority Substances by commenting on the draft scoping documents, submitting data to inform the Agency’s risk evaluations, or commenting on the draft risk evaluations; and,
  • Continue to watch this space for information regarding new developments under the TSCA.


Environmental Protection Agency.  “High-Priority Substance Designations Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and Initiation of Risk Evaluation on High-Priority Substances; Notice of Availability.”  Federal Register 84 (30 December 2019): 71924-71935.


United States



High-Priority Substances

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