final test rule requiring testing on 19 High Production Volume chemicals. These were chemicals that were not sponsored by chemical manufacturers during the voluntary HPV Challenge program. Since no one claimed them they came to be known as "orphan" chemicals. And now EPA is planning to get the rest of them into the orphanage this year for testing.
At least that is the plan.
The reality is a bit less ambitious. This second final test rule, which was published in the Federal Register only a week or so ago, was proposed way back in July of 2008...2-1/2 years ago. The first final test rule was published in 2006 after having been proposed in the year 2000! A third proposed rule was published almost a year ago and EPA hopes to get it final "sometime this year." A fourth proposed rule is in the works. The likelihood of the fourth rule going final this year is, well, not.
Even then this will cover only about 100 of the orphan chemicals from the 10-year long (plus 5-year overdue) HPV Challenge program. There are several hundred other chemicals that are high production volume, that is, produced at over 1 million pounds per year, that are not even on EPA's radar to be proposed for testing. And then there are the thousands of chemicals grandfathered onto the TSCA Inventory that have not been fully tested. The orphan chemical question is one of the reasons put forth for why TSCA reform is so desperately needed.
All of this plays into the ongoing debate about what, or even if, will happen with TSCA reform this year. The bills introduced last year are dead and new bills, should anyone in the House try to introduce one, will most likely have a different flavor than those from the last Congress. A different flavor may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view, but the real question is whether there will be any flavor. Industry says they want a federal law so they don't have to deal with a patchwork of state laws. Environmental and health advocacy groups (NGOs) clearly want there to be TSCA reform. Which would suggest that the path forward is clear.
But then. This is Congress.