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Welch Urges EPA to Review Three Chemical Clusters Potentially Harmful to First Responders

November 17, 2016
Press Release
Welch-authored bipartisan letter follows Congressional enactment of new toxic chemicals safety law

WASHINGTON –Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) today sent a bipartisan letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the review for potential regulation of three chemical clusters that disproportionately affect first responders and emergency personnel.  EPA’s review of potentially toxic chemicals was directed by Congress in recently enacted toxic chemical safety legislation.

“Emergency response invariably involves a degree of risk, but we can help mitigate these inherent dangers by prioritizing chemicals that first responders disproportionately encounter. We commend EPA for its previous work assessing these chemical clusters and firmly believe they are strong candidates for further review,” Welch’s letter reads. 

The EPA review was authorized by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which was signed into law by President Obama in June. The new law  mandates the evaluation of potentially hazardous chemicals to determine if they pose an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. EPA must select by the end of this year the first 10 chemicals that will be subject to this risk assessment. 

Welch and his colleagues are urging EPA to immediately review three classes of flame retardants, Chlorinated Phosphate Esters cluster, the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromides cluster, and the Tetrabromobisphenol A cluster. These chemicals are widely used in products such as household furniture, textiles, and electronic equipment, yet they can persist in the environment and potentially pose hazards to humans. First responders are often exposed to fumes containing these chemicals when responding to emergencies.

Welch’s bipartisan letter was signed by 26 House colleagues.