There are thousands of chemicals present at low levels in the environment, food, cosmetics, clothing and other products. We know very little about many of these chemicals. If there is a potential hazard because of exposure to them, howmuch exposure does it take to have an effect? What’s the range of certainty? How can one prioritize these chemicals for future research based on their toxicity and potential for exposure? The new contract will help address these questions.
Current efforts known as ToxCast and Tox21 underway at EPA and other federal agencies are high-throughput screening programs that search commercial chemicals for potential bioactivity. The program to which Battelle will contribute, ExpoCast, provides complementary exposure information on those same (more than 3,000) chemicals. EPA will use the toxicity and exposure information to prioritize the order in which chemicals should be evaluated further and to refine associated risk assessments.
Under the new contract, Battelle will receive, collect and analyze environmental, biological and consumer product samples for the chemicals of interest. Emphasis will be on rapid screening methods to identify as many chemicals as possible. Battelle’s expertise in analytical method development may be critical to the work as often the chemicals will never have been measured in particular matrices.
Meanwhile, EPA is proposing one-time reporting and recordkeeping requirements on nanoscale chemical substances in the marketplace.
EPA currently reviews new chemical substances manufactured or processed as nanomaterials prior to introduction into the marketplace to ensure that they are safe. For the first time, the agency is proposing to use Toxic Substances Control Act to collect existing exposure and health and safety information on chemicals currently in the marketplace when manufactured or processed as nanoscale materials. The proposal will require one-time reporting from companies that manufacture or process chemical substances as nanoscale materials.
Under the terms of the proposal, companies will notify EPA of certain information, including specific chemical identity, production volume, methods of manufacture, processing, use, exposure and release information and available health and safety data.