Lead and Copper Rule: Expert Panel Workshop on Public Education and Risk Communication

August 13, 2004

EPA is convening an expert panel workshop on Sept. 14-15, 2004, in Philadelphia to discuss issues associated with the Lead and Copper Rule. The workshop will discuss the public education requirements under the Lead and Copper Rule and how to effectively communicate risk to customers in a variety of situations. This workshop is one in a series of expert workshops that EPA is holding to provide a venue for idea exchange on the opportunities and challenges associated with the Lead and Copper Rule. To register, call Liana Pike at 703-247-6173, or register by email at Registration@EPAPEWorkshop.com.

HARC Joins Chicago Climate Exchange Effort to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) has become the first non-profit research organization in the greater Houston area, and second in the nation, to join the innovative market for carbon emissions management known as the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). Based in The Woodlands, Texas, HARC is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing technologies and policies to improve people's lives and protect the environment.

Founded in 2003, the Chicago Climate Exchange is an independent exchange that administers the world's first multi-national and multi-sector marketplace for reducing and trading greenhouse gas emissions. CCX represents the first voluntary, legally-binding commitment by a cross section of North American corporations, municipalities and other institutions to establish a rules-based market for reducing greenhouse gases. With members such as IBM, Ford Motor Company, Dupont, Motorola, the City of Chicago, and the World Resources Institute, the CCX provides an ideal structure for advancing market-based solutions to the increasingly important issue of global climate change. To date the exchange has traded more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. HARC joins more than 50 organizations in the North America in this initiative.

"HARC is exploring ways to positively address carbon management issues," said Todd Mitchell, HARC's President, "so it makes sense for us to interact with the leaders in industry focusing on the issues. The CCX brings a market reality to the carbon discussion. As a small non-profit, we don't generate significant greenhouse gas emissions, but our people wanted to make the commitment to reducing our carbon footprint in our daily activities. We hope to learn as an organization and share our experience with companies and governments in the region."

As an associate member of the CCX, HARC will quantify its carbon footprint and then make specific commitments to reduce those emissions over the next five years. HARC expects that most of its emissions savings will come from improving the energy efficiency of its building infrastructure, with smaller gains in activities such as travel. Under the rules of the exchange, HARC will purchase carbon financial instruments (CFIs) to offset carbon emissions from a selection of business related activities.

HARC's participation in the CCX underscores HARC's commitment to air quality and climate issues in the region. HARC serves as the research management organization for the Texas Environmental Research Consortium (TERC). Funded by state and federal agencies, TERC seeks to improve air quality science and modeling in ways that help Texas cities meet federal air quality standards. HARC also manages an industry-sponsored hydrogen fuel cell test and evaluation center; a high performance green building program; and a program, funded by EPA, to explore ways of reducing the transportation sector's contribution to urban air pollution. HARC has recently released the first report of the Cool Houston initiative, a roadmap for reducing Houston's "urban heat island effect" through cooler roofing and paving options and urban reforestation.

EPA Finalizes Extension for Compliance with the SPCC Rule

On June 17, 2004, EPA proposed to extend, by 12 months, certain upcoming compliance dates for the July 2002 SPCC amendments. EPA has now finalized an 18-month extension for the dates in 40 CFR 112.3(a) and (b) for a facility to amend and implement its SPCC Plan to comply with the requirements as amended in 2002 (or, in the case of a facility becoming operational after August 16, 2002, prepare and implement a Plan in a manner that complies with the 2002 amended requirements). EPA has also amended the compliance deadlines in 40 CFR 112.3(c) for mobile facilities. EPA is granting the extension to, among other reasons, provide sufficient time for the regulated community to undertake the actions necessary to prepare and update their Plans in light of a recent partial settlement of litigation involving the July 2002 amendments. The extension is also intended to alleviate the need for individual extension requests.

This extension follows a previous 18-month extension announced on April 17, 2003, and extends deadlines for an additional 18 months from the dates promulgated at that time. The new compliance dates are February 17, 2006, to amend an existing SPCC Plan, and August 18, 2006, to implement the Plan. Affected facilities that start operations between August 16, 2002 and August 18, 2006, must prepare and implement an SPCC Plan by August 18, 2006. Affected facilities that become operational after August 18, 2006 must prepare and implement an SPCC Plan before starting operations.

The final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2004.

For further information, please see http://www.epa.gov/oilspill.

IARC Classifies Formaldehyde as Carcinogenic to Humans

"Twenty-six scientists from 10 countries evaluated the available evidence on the carcinogenicity of formaldehyde, a widely used chemical", reports Dr Peter Boyle, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization. The working group, convened by the IARC Monographs Programme, concluded that formaldehyde is carcinogenic to humans. Previous evaluations, based on the smaller number of studies available at that time, had concluded that formaldehyde was probably carcinogenic to humans, but new information from studies of persons exposed to formaldehyde has increased the overall weight of the evidence.

Based on this new information, the expert working group has determined that there is now sufficient evidence that formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans, a rare cancer in developed countries. "Their conclusion that there is adequate data available from humans for an increased risk of a relatively rare form of cancer (nasopharyngeal cancer), and a supporting mechanism, demonstrates the value and strengths of the Monographs Programme," emphasized Dr Boyle. The working group also found limited evidence for cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses and "strong but not sufficient evidence" for leukemia. The finding for leukemia reflects the epidemiologists' finding of strong evidence in human studies coupled with an inability to identify a mechanism for induction of leukemia, based on the data available at this time. "By signalling the degree of evidence for leukemia and cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, the working group identified areas where further clarification through research is needed. This represents a service to Public Health", Dr Boyle concluded.

Formaldehyde is produced worldwide on a large scale. It is used mainly in the production of resins that are used as adhesives and binders for wood products, pulp, paper, glasswool and rockwool. Formaldehyde is also used extensively in the production of plastics and coatings, in textile finishing and in the manufacture of industrial chemicals. It is used as a disinfectant and preservative (formalin) in many applications.

Common sources of exposure include vehicle emissions, particle boards and similar building materials, carpets, paints and varnishes, foods and cooking, tobacco smoke, and the use of formaldehyde as a disinfectant. Levels of formaldehyde in outdoor air are generally low but higher levels can be found in the indoor air of homes.

Occupational exposure to formaldehyde occurs in a wide variety of occupations and industries: for example, it is estimated that more than one million workers are exposed to some degree across the European Union. Short-term exposures to high levels have been reported for embalmers, pathologists and paper workers. Lower levels have usually been encountered during the manufacture of man-made vitreous fibres, abrasives and rubber and in formaldehyde production industries. A very wide range of exposure levels has been observed in the production of resins and plastic products. The development of resins that release less formaldehyde and improved ventilation has resulted in decreased exposure levels in many industrial settings in recent decades.

The working group also evaluated two glycol ethers (2-butoxyethanol and 1-tert-butoxy-2-propanol) and evaluated these as not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans, due to the inadequate level of evidence in humans and limited evidence in experimental animals available to the experts. Further research is needed on these widely-used solvents.

EPA Proposes Critical Use Exemption of Methyl Bromide

EPA is proposing a rule to amend existing regulations that call for the phaseout of methyl bromide (MeBr) by January 1, 2005. The Agency’s action seeks to create a critical use exemption for MeBr. The exemptions for continued production and import of methyl bromide would continue to honor the U.S. commitment to obtain for American farmers the methyl bromide they need, in a manner consistent with the Montreal Protocol, while protecting the ozone layer.

The critical use exemptions proposed by EPA were developed through collaboration between EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agricultural economists and many other technical experts. EPA conducted six stakeholder sessions during the summer of 2003 (see http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr for transcripts) to discuss the variety of options for the allocation system. EPA will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register and will accept comments on the proposed rule during a 30-day comment period.

Critical use exemptions are anticipated under the Montreal Protocol for circumstances where there are no technically and economically feasible alternatives to methyl bromide. The critical use exemptions are from 2005 phaseout of methyl bromide and subject to countries obtaining authorization from the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The U.S. is one of 11 countries that have been given critical use exemptions. The 187 countries that signed the Montreal Protocol authorized a total of 8,942 metric tons of methyl bromide for the United States for critical uses in 2005. The signatory countries also established an upper limit on the amount of methyl bromide that can come from new production and import for critical use exemptions in 2005. The parties authorized 35 percent of baseline as the maximum amount of methyl bromide available for the critical uses in 2005. A portion of this amount will be coming from inventory, and the rest from methyl bromide newly produced or imported during 2005. The agreement directs each country to take into account the amount of methyl bromide in inventory that is available for critical uses before licensing new production and import for the critical use exemption.

The proposed rule describes the decisions and proposes a method for determining how much of the existing U.S. inventory of methyl bromide is available for critical uses.

To update information on methyl bromide inventories being held for sale to other entities, the Agency is publishing concurrently with the NPRM a notice under authority Section 114 of the Clean Air Act. Section 114 of the Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to compel entities to provide information to implement programs under the Act, in this specific case, the critical use exemption program. EPA, USDA and other government agencies have made significant efforts to encourage production of alternatives to MeBr. USDA has invested more than $150 million in MeBr alternative research, and EPA has registered new alternatives for specific crops and food sanitary uses. EPA also has adopted a comprehensive approach to evaluating the currently registered and pending soil fumigants, including giving priority to register promising new alternatives

For more information on the proposed rule, visit http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr.

Life Cycle of a Cell Phone, Green Shopping

Don't throw away that old cell phone. For ideas on what you can do with it, see EPA's cell phone poster. And for ideas on "green shopping," check out this link.

Lab to Pay $500,000 Fine for Hazardous Waste Violations

Ultra Scientific Inc., a North Kingstown, RI chemical standards laboratory, has agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty to settle claims by the U.S. EPA that it had extensive hazardous waste handling violations at its facility in Quonset Point Industrial Park.

The settlement stems from two days of inspections in September 2002 that EPA conducted jointly with the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM). During the inspection, EPA staff discovered numerous violations of hazardous waste storage and management regulations at the company's production building and several large outdoor containers behind the building.

The September 2002 inspection was done at the request of DEM, which first discovered the violations during a state inspection in August 2002. Ultra Scientific failed to correct the violations after this first state inspection.

Hazardous Waste Violations in NC

The state of NC has an online database with information on hazardous waste violations and civil penalties assessed in the state. The data is available at http://www.wastenotnc.org/HWHOME/penalties/penalt.htm.

Outreach on Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

EPA and FDA are distributing What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish, a brochure that presents the recommendations from the joint national mercury advisory that the two agencies issued in March 2004. EPA recently distributed the brochures, with a letter signed by EPA and FDA, to over 170,000 members of the U.S. medical community as well as state, tribal, and local health departments, WICs, Pregnancy Planning Centers, and other public health organizations.

You can get copies of the brochure, available in both English (document number EPA-823-F-04-009) and Spanish (document number EPA-823-F-04-010), by calling the EPA distribution center at 1-800-490-9198 and giving them the appropriate document number. You can also learn more about EPA’s fish consumption advisory program at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/. (Online copies of the brochure are also available here.)