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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Draft Risk Evaluation for Methylene Chloride

In the October 2019 draft risk evaluation for methylene chloride (MC), EPA reviewed a suite of potential MC exposures and made initial determinations on risk. These preliminary determinations may change as EPA's evaluation becomes more refined through the public comment and peer review processes. Below are the draft risk evaluation and supporting documents for MC

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft risk evaluation for 60 days until December 30, 2019, in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0437. EPA will also hold a peer review meeting of EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on the draft risk evaluation for this chemical’s conditions of use on December 3-4, 2019

Read about the steps EPA is taking in the risk evaluation process for MC.

Learn more about EPA’s risk evaluation process.

On this page:


What does EPA look for in a draft risk evaluation?

To prepare a draft risk evaluation, EPA reviews extensive scientific literature, conducts modeling and other risk assessment activities, and collects exposure, fate, and transport information from many sources. EPA looks at how the chemical is used today, what we know about the chemical’s fate, transport, and toxicity, and whether any of the chemical’s uses could pose unreasonable risk to human health or the environment under the known conditions. 

For example, in the draft MC risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 72 potential MC uses, such as commercial paint and coating removal, consumer adhesives, sealants, degreasers, cleaners and automobile care products. EPA’s draft risk evaluation, which will now be reviewed by a scientific peer review panel and be open for public comment, found some adverse health risks associated with acute and chronic inhalation exposure to MC under certain conditions of use.   

What process is EPA following to assess the risks of this chemical?

The basic steps of the risk evaluation process for existing chemicals under TSCA are:

  1. Prioritization
  2. Risk Evaluation
  3. Risk Management

Since MC is one of the “first ten” chemical substances to undergo risk evaluation it was not subject to the prioritization step.  The risk evaluation process is the second step. We want to ensure that our risk evaluation process is transparent and scientifically rigorous. The draft risk evaluation includes input from other EPA offices as well as other federal agencies. Additionally, EPA goes beyond what TSCA requires by peer reviewing the risk evaluations it releases in order to increase public transparency in the risk evaluation process and receive expert feedback on the science that underlies the risk determination. 

The draft risk evaluation is not a final agency action. EPA will use feedback received from the public and peer review process to inform the final risk evaluation and will keep the public updated on the agency’s progress through this process.

If EPA’s final risk evaluation finds there are unreasonable risks associated with this chemical under the specific conditions of use, the agency will propose actions to address those risks within the timeframe required by TSCA. This could include proposed regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of this chemicals, as applicable.

Go to www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-evaluations-existing-chemicals-under-tsca for more information about the risk evaluation process.

What should the public do in the meantime regarding products containing, or uses of, MC?

For any chemical product, EPA strongly recommends that users carefully follow all instructions on the product’s label to ensure proper use, eliminating undue risk for harmful exposure. Workers using MC products should continue to follow label instructions and applicable workplace regulations and should properly use appropriate personal protective equipment when necessary.

I use products containing MC in my workplace. What should I do?

Workers using MC products should continue to follow label instructions and applicable workplace regulations and should properly use appropriate personal protective equipment, as needed.

Are there alternatives for MC?

There are many solvents on the market, some of which might be suitable replacements for methylene chloride depending on the condition of use. EPA has done some analysis of alternatives to methylene chloride with respect to paint and coating removal products and there are a variety of alternatives available. These include other chemical products as well as mechanical methods. Additional work on identifying whether alternatives exist for other MC uses will take place in the coming months.

Draft Risk Evaluation and Supporting Files

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