The Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP) is designed to provide information to the public on children's potential health risks associated with chemical exposures. The key question of the VCCEP is whether the potential hazards, exposures, and risks to children have been adequately characterized, and, if not, what additional data are necessary. To answer this question, manufacturers or importers of 23 chemicals were asked by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to sponsor their chemicals in the first tier of a pilot program. These chemicals were selected for evaluation because they have been found as contaminants in human tissue or fluids (adipose tissue, blood, breath, breast milk, or urine); food and water children may eat and drink; or air children may breathe (including residential or school air). Under the VCCEP framework, sponsoring companies agree to prepare Tier 1 hazard, exposure, and risk assessments on the individual chemicals, and identify the need for additional data. These assessment documents are submitted to the U.S. EPA and subsequently undergo review by experts in an independent peer consultation meeting that is open to the public. Following this peer consultation process, the U.S. EPA reviews each submission and makes a data-needs determination, which may include requesting further data collection or generation by the sponsor. Sponsoring companies then decide whether to volunteer for the next tier and collect or generate the requested data.
The purpose of this article is to describe the VCCEP process and to review and present the key findings from the first set of chemicals that have been fully or partially evaluated under the pilot program (vinylidene chloride, decabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether, octabromodiphenyl ether, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, decane, undecane, and dodecane). Specifically, we provide a brief summary of the sponsors' submissions, the peer consultation panels' discussions, and the U.S. EPA's data-needs decisions. Although we do not attempt to conduct independent analyses of the underlying data, we do identify a number of common themes that have emerged during implementation of the pilot program and discuss several key issues that could become important in the future. The information presented here should be useful for various parties interested in the progress of the VCCEP and the results of the initial (Tier 1) children's assessments.
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