Acting under the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA plans to conduct a risk assessment and establish appropriate risk management actions for styrene and more than 80 other work plan chemicals by September 2015, according to the agency’s recently released draft strategic plan.

EPA in the workplace — As a result of its TSCA safety review, EPA could require workplace exposure controls for styrene.

EPA in the workplace — As a result of its TSCA safety review, EPA could require workplace exposure controls for styrene.

TSCA, passed by Congress in 1976, requires EPA to ensure that industrial and commercial chemicals do not pose an unreasonable risk to workers and the public. EPA has reviewed safety data on a large number of new chemicals introduced into commerce since passage of TSCA, but has made little progress evaluating some 60,000 existing chemicals already in use at that time.

The agency believes that styrene and the other TSCA work plan chemicals are those existing chemicals most in need of risk assessment and that adequate data exists to support such assessment. In picking styrene for this list, EPA noted its neurotoxicity and potential to cause cancer, and high releases reported to the agency’s Toxic Release Inventory.

Redundant assessment

An evaluation by the TSCA program would come at the same time a different EPA office is considering an update to styrene’s listing in the Integrated Risk Information System database. The purpose of IRIS is to provide chemical hazard and potency information for other EPA programs.