EPA Releases Free Online Toxics Screening Tool

EPA Releases Free Online Toxics Screening Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released the Persistence, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Profiler, an online screening methodology. It was developed jointly by the U.S. EPA, the American Chemistry Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council, the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association and with contributions from Environmental Defense.

The Profiler checks for potential pervasive, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs) chemicals -- toxic substances that remain in the environment for long periods and build up, or bioaccumulate, in humans and animals. PBT pollutants pose regulatory and environmental challenges because they easily move between air, water, and land, and cross boundaries of programs, geography, and generations.

This new, free tool helps companies screen for PBT chemicals faster than traditional methods, choose safer alternatives to PBTs for use in new and existing products and incorporate pollution prevention into the chemical development process.

The PBT Profiler contains some methods that are included in the U.S. EPA's Pollution Prevention Framework, which is an approach to risk screening that incorporates pollution prevention principles in the design and development of chemicals. The objective of the P2 Framework is to provide information to decision makers during the early stages of new chemical development and encourage the utilization of safer chemicals and processes.

Before the general release of the Profiler, over 120 chemical companies and other stakeholders participated in testing the system, including DuPont, PPG Industries, S.C. Johnson and Eastman Kodak. Their comments were incorporated into the recently released PBT Profiler.

The U.S. EPA reminds users that the Profiler is tool that estimates PBT characteristics and is quite helpful in establishing priorities for chemical evaluation when lacking chemical-specific data. It should be used with caution, and any issues of potential concern that are identified by the Profiler should be investigated through additional data gathering and/or conducting more analyses to provide enough information to make an informed decision about the chemical undergoing review.

Since 1999, EPA has required certain additional PBT chemicals to be reported under Toxics Release Inventory using a lower reporting threshold than the other TRI chemicals.