By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 12, 2023, that it is updating the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), “a living list of chemicals organized by functional-use class that EPA’s Safer Choice program has evaluated and determined meet Safer Choice criteria.” EPA is adding nine chemicals to the SCIL. EPA states that to expand the number of chemicals and functional-use categories on the SCIL, it encourages manufacturers to submit their safer chemicals for review and listing on the SCIL. In support of the Biden Administration’s goals, the addition of chemicals to the SCIL “incentivizes further innovation in safer chemistry, which can promote environmental justice, bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change, and improve water quality.” According to EPA, chemicals on the SCIL “are among the safest for their functional use.”
EPA changed the status for one chemical (1-octanesulfonic acid, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,8-tridecafluoro-) that has recently been identified on the SCIL as a per- or polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS). According to EPA, the chemical is not used in any Safer Choice-certified products. It was added to the SCIL in 2012 based on the data available and the state of EPA’s knowledge at the time. EPA has now updated the SCIL listing for this chemical to a grey square because of a growing understanding of the toxicological profiles for certain PFAS and incomplete information on the potential health and environmental effects of these substances. A grey square notation means that the chemical may not be allowed for use in products that are candidates for the Safer Choice label, and any current Safer Choice-certified products that contain this chemical must be reformulated unless relevant health and safety data are provided to justify continuing to list this chemical on the SCIL. EPA will determine the data required on a case-by-case basis. According to EPA, in general, data useful for making such a determination would provide evidence of low concern for human health and environmental impacts. Unless information provided to EPA adequately justifies continued listing, EPA will remove the chemical from the SCIL 12 months after the grey square designation.
EPA states that after this update, there are 1,064 chemicals listed on the SCIL. The SCIL is a resource that can help many different stakeholders:
- Product manufacturers use the SCIL to help make high-functioning products that contain safer ingredients;
- Chemical manufacturers use this list to promote the safer chemicals they manufacture;
- Retailers use the list to help shape their sustainability programs; and
- Environmental and health advocates use the list to support their work with industry to encourage the use of the safest possible chemistry.
EPA’s Safer Choice program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the program’s rigorous human health and environmental safety criteria. The Safer Choice program allows companies to use its label on products that meet the Safer Choice Standard. The EPA website contains a complete list of Safer Choice-certified products.