It is the EPA’s first effort to ban an existing chemical since it failed in its attempt to ban asbestos in the early 1990s. Used as a degreaser and spot remover in dry cleaning, TCE is a neurotoxin linked to cancer, developmental impacts and liver toxicity. Udall led the effort in Congress to pass the historic bipartisan Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a major overhaul of the nation’s badly broken chemical safety program. The bill was signed into law in June.
“The EPA’s proposal to protect the public from a hazardous chemical in common use is exactly why we worked so hard for reform. It has been over a generation since the EPA has been able to do its job to protect the public from dangerous chemicals. Its success is crucial to restoring the public’s trust and confidence in the thousands of chemicals manufactured and used daily at home and in the workplace. Millions of Americans — including me — are regular customers at the neighborhood dry cleaner, but, like many chemicals, TCE has been on the market unchecked for many years despite evidence linking it to cancer and other serious health conditions. Workers, customers and the communities around these businesses deserve to be protected and to be certain that there is an effective watchdog looking out for them. Everyone involved in public health and chemical manufacture has an interest in the the success of this process, and I urge all sides to play a productive role moving forward.”
The EPA is basing its proposal on an assessment of the uses of TCE that it did in 2014 and is proposing to ban the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution in commerce of the chemical as used as an aerosol degreaser and in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities.
Comments on the proposed rule must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. Last week, the EPA announced that it will evaluate 10 chemicals for risk, including the remaining uses for TCE. Udall’s statement can be found here.