Hazardous Waste Operations

A Closer Look: Seven Known and Possible Carcinogens Slated for EPA Review

Yesterday we took a closer look at three aquatic or reproductive toxins for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be conducting a new health and environmental assessment under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform. The EPA chose 10 chemicals for its first round of evaluations; the remaining 7 chemicals are all known, probable, or possible human carcinogens.

Keep reading to find out what chemicals are slated to come under scrutiny, where you’ll find them, and why they were chosen for review. The agency had already initiated rulemaking for three of the chemicals on its list; we’ll let you know about the status of that rulemaking as well.

Cancer-Causing Chemicals

A lot of chemicals are possible human carcinogens. The EPA has chosen to further evaluate 7 of these as part of its initial 10 hazard assessments. Here’s where you’ll find them:

1,4-Dioxane. 1,4-dioxane is used as a solvent in the manufacture of other chemicals and as a laboratory reagent. It is a trace contaminant of some chemicals used in cosmetics, detergents, and shampoos. Manufacturers now reduce 1,4-dioxane from these chemicals to low levels before these chemicals are made into products used in the home. 1,4-dioxane is found in groundwater, ambient air, and indoor environments. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the EPA all list 1,4-dioxane as a likely human carcinogen.

1-Bromopropane. 1-Bromopropane (1-BP) is a solvent that is used in degreasing, dry cleaning, spray adhesives, and aerosol solvents. Occupational exposure to 1-BP has been linked to neurological illnesses. Animal studies show that 1-BP may also cause cancer and reproductive disorders. 1-BP has been found in drinking water, indoor environments, surface water, ambient air, groundwater, and soil. The NTP has classified 1-BP as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.

Asbestos. Asbestos is banned for many uses but is still found in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications.  Is it also found in certain imported products such as brakes, friction products, gaskets, packing materials, and building materials. It is a known human carcinogen that also poses acute and chronic toxicity hazards when inhaled.

Carbon Tetrachloride. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is an environmentally persistent greenhouse gas that is known to cause ozone depletion. Because it is ozone-depleting, its use for dispersive applications has been phased out since 1996 in developed countries and since 2010 in developing countries. It is still used as a process agent and in other production. It has been found in biomonitoring, drinking water, indoor environments, surface water, ambient air, groundwater, and soil. It is a neurotoxin, and both the IARC and the NTP list it as a possible human carcinogen.

Methylene Chloride. Methylene chloride is a solvent used in a variety of industries and applications, such as adhesives, paint- and coating-removal products, pharmaceuticals, metal cleaning, chemical processing, and aerosols. It has been found in drinking water, indoor environments, ambient air, groundwater, and soil. It is a neurotoxin, listed by the IARC and the NTP as a probable human carcinogen.

Tetrachloroethylene. This chemical, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE), is used in consumer products and dry cleaning. It has been found in biomonitoring, drinking water, indoor environments, ambient air, groundwater, and soil. Both the IARC and the NTP list it as a probable human carcinogen.

Trichloroethylene. Trichloroethylene is used in metal degreasing, as an extraction and cleaning solvent, and in the production of refrigerants. It has been found in drinking water, indoor environments, surface water, ambient air, groundwater, and soil. Both the IARC and the NTP list it as a known human carcinogen.

Additional chemicals will be designated for evaluation, and all of the remaining Work Plan chemicals will be reviewed for their potential hazard and exposure. For each risk evaluation that the EPA completes, TSCA requires that the EPA begin another. By the end of 2019, EPA must have at least 20 chemical risk valuations ongoing at any given time.

What About the EPA Rulemaking on TCE, NMP, and Methylene Chloride?

According to the EPA, it will continue as scheduled with its proposed and final rules on these chemicals. The proposed rules cover only certain specific uses of these chemicals. EPA has added them to its initial list of chemicals for evaluation in part so that it can evaluate other remaining uses of these chemicals.

Need more information about carcinogens? Safety.BLR.com is a great place to start.

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