Children's Health Protection
EPA Response To CHPAC Report
Response to Recommendations from the Children's Health Protection
Committee Regarding Evaluation of Existing Environmental Standards
AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
SUMMARY: EPA asked the federal Children's Health Protection
(CHPAC) to recommend five existing standards that may merit reevaluation in
further protect children's environmental health. This document includes EPA's
response to the CHPAC recommendations. EPA will reevaluate the chloralkali
Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (mercury); the implementation and
enforcement of the (Farm) Worker Protection Standards; pesticide tolerances for
organophosphates (chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, methyl parathion); atrazine
tolerances and Maximum Contaminant Level in drinking water; and will review
and ambient air quality as they relate to asthma. EPA's decision to reevaluate
in large part on recommendations from the Children's Health Protection Advisory
Committee and public comments in response to a Federal Register document of
October 3, 1997.
In September 1996, EPA issued a report on Environmental Health Threats
Children (EPA 175-F-96-001) that described how and why children are
affected by an
array of complex environmental threats to their health. The report included a
Agenda to Protect Children's Health from Environmental Threats in which
for a national commitment to ensure a healthy future for our children. We
national, state and local policy makers -- as well as each community and family
learn about the environmental threats our children face; to participate in an
national policy debate on how together we can best reduce health risks for
and to take action to protect our Nations's future by protecting our children.
The first element of the National Agenda committed the
Administration to ". . .
ensure, as a matter of national policy, that all standards EPA sets are
enough to address the potentially heightened risks faced by children -- so as
environmental health threats wherever possible -- and that the most significant
standards be reevaluated as we learn more." We further state that " . . . EPA
-- with public input and scientific peer review -- five of its most significant
and environmental standards to reissue on an expedited basis under this new
BACKGROUND: In order to meet our commitment to public
input, EPA sought advice
through two channels: formal notice and comment, and the formation of a Federal
Advisory Committee composed of individuals representing diverse viewpoints. On
October 3, 1997, EPA issued a document and request for comments from the public
to existing EPA standards that, if revised as a result of review and
strengthen and increase children's environmental health protection. EPA
comments from 18 individuals and organizations. (Attachment A to this document
includes the list of submitters, a summary of the comments, and EPA's response
public comments.) Further, on September 9, 1997, EPA issued a document in the
Federal Register that it had established a Children's Health Protection Advisory
Committee (CHPAC) under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463,
advise the Administrator on various issues of children's environmental health
One of the first actions undertaken by the CHPAC, at the request of EPA,
develop a set of recommendations to the Administrator concerning which existing
EPA should reevaluate. They started by reviewing the public comments that were
submitted in response to the October 3, 1997, Federal Register document. Based
extensive deliberations the CHPAC submitted their recommendations in a consensus
report dated May 28, 1998. (See Attachment B for the selection criteria used
CHPAC in their deliberations.) The following section lists the CHPAC
recommendations, excerpts the discussion that accompanied the recommendations in
the report (in
italics), and outlines EPA's response.
We congratulate the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee for
success in deliberating and recommending actions to improve EPA's regulations.
believe that EPA's response to these recommendations advances our goal to better
protect our Nation's children.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have a need for
you may write to Meg Kelly, Office of Children's Health Protection, USEPA
401 M Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20460; (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reevaluate the National Emission Standard for
Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Chloralkali Plants
CHPAC Report Discussion: "The CHPAC recommends that EPA take a holistic approach to evaluate all sources of mercury emissions. Mercury is a relevant issue to more than one media (air, water), which contributes to its entry into the environment, for example, by electricity (coal-burning) generation, incineration and discharge into water sources. Human exposure occurs primarily through fish consumption. Mercury exposure is associated with adverse health effects in humans. Depending on dose, the effects can range from severe to less severe, most notably, neurological, developmental, and reproductive effects.
By the end of 1998, EPA is scheduled to complete a multimedia strategy addressing mercury. We support EPA's multimedia approach and schedule for the issuance of this strategy.
We encourage EPA to proceed diligently with implementation to protect children from mercury emissions, including those from municipal, medical, and hazardous waste combustion.
Although the CHPAC selected the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for chloralkali plants for reevaluation, EPA resources should not be diverted from the evaluation of other larger sources of mercury emission. Important criteria for its selection are that the standard has not been re-evaluated or revised since its promulgation in 1973, children's health was not considered in the original development of the standard, and new information and data based on peer reviewed science suggest that risks to children and the persistent and bioaccumulative nature of mercury were not considered during the setting of the standard.
The CHPAC recognizes the Water Quality Criteria Standard as one means by which the EPA can regulate the prevention of contaminated fish by mercury and ensure children's protection from hazardous levels of mercury. The CHPAC recommends that EPA address the largest sources of mercury emissions expeditiously and prevent further contamination of fish by revising the Water Quality Criteria Standard. Studies have shown that once mercury enters water, either directly or through air deposition, it can bioaccumulate in fish and animal tissue at the top of the food chain in concentrations much greater than those found in water.
Another specific concern is the emission of mercury from electric
utility boilers (regulatory determination by the EPA is due in November 1998).
criteria for its selection are that there is currently no regulation of
hazardous air pollutant
emissions, such as mercury, from electric utility boilers, and electric utility
boilers are the
largest contributor of overall anthropogenic sources of mercury emissions in
States (EPA Mercury Report to Congress 1997)."
EPA's Response: EPA agrees with
the CHPAC recommendation that the NESHAP for
chloralkali plants be revisited and has begun a process to revise this
proposed rule will include emissions limits based on control technology and on
management practices. EPA projects a proposal date of November 1999, and
to issue a final standard in November 2000. In order to ensure protection of
the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) will analyze the risk from chloralkali
support the rule making -- an unusual step for a technology-based standard.
OAR believes the risk assessment will provide us with
information on potential
children's risks that is important to determining the appropriate level of the
risk analysis may be used to justify setting a standard more
than the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) floor, but any standard
will be no less stringent than the floor.
Discussion: On November 16, 1998,
EPA issued a draft Multimedia Strategy for
Priority Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Pollutants
(http://www.EPA.gov/pbt/strategy.htm). This strategy includes a
Action Plan for Mercury. EPA believes that this action plan addresses
expressed by the CHPAC in their report. It recognizes the multimedia threat
methyl mercury -- the compound to which mercury is transformed through natural
environmental processes -- and the need to control human exposure to methyl
through multiple concerted approaches targeted at air, water, sediment and
Further, EPA is proposing additional reporting of mercury releases under the
Release Inventory to improve citizens' right to know about releases in their
EPA has taken several important steps to reduce the levels of mercury,
reducing emissions from municipal waste combustors and medical waste
These combined actions, once fully implemented (December 2000 for municipal
combustors; September 2002 for medical waste incinerators) will reduce mercury
emissions caused by human activities by 50% from 1990 levels. EPA also entered
a partnership with the American Hospital Association whose goal is to virtually
eliminate hospital mercury waste by the year 2005.
Further, final regulations for hazardous waste combustion facilities (incinerators, cement kilns, lightweight aggregate kilns) are expected to be promulgated in February 1999. The EPA is responding to extensive public comment including new emissions data and comments on the methodology used to estimate mercury emissions.