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US and Canada announce schedule for implementing strategies for all “round 1” chemicals of mutual concern

U.S. EPA and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) are developing and preparing to implement binational management strategies for substances identified as “round 1” chemicals of mutual concern (CMCs). Round 1 CMCs include hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), long-chain perfluorinated carboxylic acids (LC-PFCAs), mercury, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs). Management strategies may include new chemical regulations, pollution prevention programs, research, monitoring, and/or surveillance.

The agencies’ timeline currently contemplates that the strategies will be finalized and implemented in stages: strategies for managing PCBs and HBCD will be finalized in June/July 2017; mercury and PBDEs in September/October 2017; and PFOA, PFOS, PFCA and SCCP in November/December 2017.

CGLI and its Chemical Management Work Group have been deeply involved in the CMC review process and reviewed and commented on “pilot” binational management strategies that U.S. EPA and ECCC prepared for PCBs and HBCD. The comments urged the agencies to incorporate information and perspectives obtained through multi-stakeholder chemical reviews into the strategies; to include “no additional action” as an acceptable binational strategy; and, if additional management action is recommended, to identify the unacceptable risk that justifies the additional action and articulate how the action will address the risk. CGLI’s comments are available for review here.

U.S. EPA and ECCC also have established a schedule for reviewing substances nominated as “round 2” CMCs. According to the “round 2” schedule, the nominated substances will be reviewed by stakeholder committees throughout 2017 but a final decision may not be announced until 2018. To date, only radionuclides and sulfates have been nominated for designation as “round 2” CMCs.