[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 203 (Friday, October 18, 1996)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 54381-54383]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-26812]


40 CFR Part 372

[OPPTS-400105; FRL-5396-9]

Copper Metal; Toxic Chemical Release Reporting; Community Right-

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Denial of petition.


SUMMARY: EPA is denying a petition to remove copper metal (Cu0, 
CAS No. 7440-50-8) from the list of chemicals subject to the reporting 
requirements under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community 
Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) and section 6607 of the Pollution 
Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA). This action is based on EPA's conclusion 
that copper metal does not meet the deletion criterion of EPCRA section 
313(d)(3). Specifically, EPA is denying this petition because EPA's 
review of the petition and available information resulted in the 
conclusion that copper ion (i.e., Cu+1 and Cu+2) can become 
available from copper metal and that copper ion is highly toxic to 
several aquatic species.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel R. Bushman, Acting Petitions 
Coordinator, 202-260-3882 or e-mail: [email protected], 
for specific information regarding this document. For further 
information on EPCRA section 313, contact the Emergency Planning and 
Community Right-to-Know Information Hotline, Environmental Protection 
Agency, Mail Stop 5101, 401 M St., SW., Washington, DC 20460, Toll 
free: 1-800-535-0202, in Virginia and Alaska: 703-412-9877, or Toll 
free TDD: 1-800-553-7672.


I. Introduction

A. Statutory Authority

    This action is taken under sections 313(d) and (e)(1) of the 
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), 42 
U.S.C. 11023. EPCRA is also referred to as Title III of the Superfund 
Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) (Pub. L. 99-499).

B. Background

    Section 313 of EPCRA requires certain facilities manufacturing, 
processing, or otherwise using listed toxic chemicals to report their 
environmental releases of such chemicals annually. Beginning with the 
1991 reporting year, such facilities also must report pollution 
prevention and recycling data for such chemicals, pursuant to section 
6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA), 42 U.S.C. 13106. 
Section 313 established an initial list of toxic chemicals that was 
comprised of more than 300 chemicals and 20 chemical categories. Copper 
was included in the initial list of chemicals and chemical categories. 
Section 313(d) authorizes EPA to add or delete chemicals from the list, 
and sets forth criteria for these actions. EPA has added and deleted 
chemicals from the original statutory list. Under section 313(e)(1), 
any person may petition EPA to add chemicals to or delete chemicals 
from the list. Pursuant to EPCRA section 313(e)(1), EPA must respond to 
petitions within 180 days, either by initiating a rulemaking or by 
publishing an explanation of why the petition is denied.
    EPCRA section 313(d)(2) states that a chemical may be listed if any 
of the listing criteria are met. Therefore, in order to add a chemical, 
EPA must demonstrate that at least one criterion is met, but does not 
need to examine whether all other criteria are also met. Conversely, in 
order to remove a chemical from the list, EPA must demonstrate that 
none of the criteria are met.
    EPA issued a statement of petition policy and guidance in the 
Federal Register of February 4, 1987 (52 FR 3479), to provide guidance 
regarding the recommended content and format for submitting petitions. 
On May 23, 1991 (56 FR 23703), EPA issued guidance regarding the 
recommended content of petitions to delete individual members of the 
section 313 metal compound categories. EPA has also published a 
statement clarifying its interpretation of the section 313(d)(2) 
criteria for adding and deleting chemical substances from the section 
313 list (59 FR 61439, November 30, 1994) (FRL-4922-2).

II. Description of Petition and Relevant Regulations

    On August 17, 1995, EPA received a petition from the National 
Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to remove copper metal (CAS 
No. 7440-50-8) from the list of toxic chemicals subject to the annual 
release reporting requirements of EPCRA section 313 and PPA section 
6607. NEMA suggested that the current unqualified copper listing should 
be replaced with a qualified listing limited to fume and dust forms 
only. The petitioner contends that copper metal, in forms other than 
fume or dust, should be deleted from the EPCRA section 313 list of 
toxic chemicals because the available data show that copper in metallic 
form does not meet the criteria for inclusion on the list of EPCRA 
section 313 chemicals. The petitioner also asserts that copper ion is 
unavailable from copper metal under environmental conditions.
    In addition to being listed under EPCRA section 313, copper metal 
is regulated by EPA under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, 
Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Under CERCLA, copper metal is 
considered a hazardous substance if its particle size is less than 100 
micrometers (0.004 inch). Copper ion (i.e., Cu+1 and Cu+2) is 
regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). In the Federal 
Register of June 7, 1991 (56 FR 26460), EPA promulgated a maximum 
contaminant level goal (MCLG) and a national primary drinking water 
regulation (NPDWR) for copper ion in drinking water. The MCLG was set 
at 1.3 milligrams/liter (mg/l) of copper ion, and the NPDWR consists of 
a treatment technique that includes corrosion control treatment, source 
water treatment and public education.

III. EPA's Technical Review of Copper Metal

    The technical review of the petition to delete copper metal 
included an analysis of the chemistry, health, ecological and 
environmental fate data known for this substance.

A. Chemistry

    Copper metal (Cu0; CAS No. 7440-50-8) is a naturally-occurring 
reddish, lustrous, ductile, malleable, water insoluble substance, 
having a melting point of 1083  deg.C and a boiling point of 2595 
deg.C (Refs. 1 and 2). Copper metal has many commercial uses. Some of 
the major uses of copper metal include production of copper tubing, 
copper wire, copper compounds, brass and bronze, to name just a few. 
Copper metal gradually loses its lustrous

[[Page 54382]]

appearance when exposed to air. Surfaces of copper metal exposed to 
moist air gradually form copper (II) carbonate. Copper metal reacts 
with mineral acids to form copper salts. Copper metal can also react 
with organic acids (Refs. 1 and 2).
    Although copper metal is insoluble in water, all waters are 
corrosive to copper metal to some degree (Ref. 3). The corrosivity of 
water to copper is influenced by a variety of factors. These factors 
include the duration of contact between the water and copper metal, and 
water quality parameters such as acidity, alkalinity, dissolved 
inorganic carbonate and calcium, water temperature, and dissolved 
oxygen content. Acidity is the most significant of these parameters. 
Waters with high acidity (i.e., low pH) are associated with the highest 
levels of copper corrosion (Ref. 3). Corrosion of copper metal by water 
results in the conversion of the metal (Cu0) to its ionic forms 
(i.e., Cu+1 and Cu+2). Ionic forms of copper are typically 
quite soluble in water. Although waters with high acidity are 
associated with the highest levels of copper corrosion, even drinking 
water, which is not highly acidic, causes corrosion of copper metal. 
For example, the primary source of copper in drinking water is 
corrosion of copper pipes used to supply the water (Ref. 3). Copper 
levels above 1.3 mg/l (the MCLG) are rarely found in drinking water, 
although levels above 1.0 mg/l and as high as 2.37 mg/l have been 
reported (Ref. 3). Thus, although copper metal is insoluble in water, 
copper metal can be corroded by water (including drinking water) to 
yield water-soluble copper ions.

B. Toxicological Evaluation

    Several comprehensive reviews on the health and environmental 
effects of copper are available, and were used during the review of the 
petition to assess the effects of copper metal on human health and the 
environment. Because copper metal is known to corrode in water to yield 
copper ion (Ref. 3), the toxicological evaluation of copper metal also 
included an assessment of the health and environmental effects of 
copper ion. These reviews include: a 1995 EPA document entitled 
``Copper Profile for DfE Printed Wiring Board Project'' (Ref. 2); a 
1991 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry document entitled 
``Toxicological Profile for Copper'' (Ref. 4); a 1987 EPA document 
entitled ``Summary Review of the Health Effects Associated with 
Copper'' (Ref. 5); and a 1987 EPA document entitled ``Drinking Water 
Criteria Document for Copper'' (Ref. 6). In addition to these reviews, 
health and environmental data on copper are also reviewed and discussed 
in EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) (Ref. 7), and in a 
previous Federal Register Notice (58 FR 34738, June 29, 1993; Ref. 8). 
The health and environmental portions of these publications (Refs. 2-8) 
are briefly summarized below. Detailed summaries and discussions can be 
found in the publications and in the technical reports (Refs. 9-11) 
prepared by the EPA scientists who reviewed the publications.
    1. Human health. Copper is an essential nutrient for humans and 
animals, with an adult recommended daily allowance of 2.0 to 3.0 
milligrams per day (mg/day). In ionic form (i.e., Cu+2), copper is 
absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and lungs, and to a lesser 
degree, through the skin. Following absorption, copper is distributed 
to all parts of the body, especially the liver. Except in the forms of 
either fume or dust or other small particulate forms, copper metal 
(Cu0) is not expected to be absorbed from any route.
    In humans and laboratory animals, gastrointestinal effects such as 
nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have occurred following acute exposure to 
Cu+2 (in the form of cupric sulfate) in 1-day oral doses ranging 
from 0.06 to 6 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of Cu. Doses of 
approximately 2 grams (g) of Cu+2 can cause more serious effects 
such as vascular injury and hemolytic anemia, resulting in severe 
kidney and liver damage. Based on the levels of copper typically found 
in drinking water (see section A of this unit), EPA does not believe 
that it is reasonable to anticipate that human exposures to oral doses 
of Cu+2 of this magnitude will occur beyond facility site 
boundaries as a result of continuous, or frequently recurring, releases 
of copper metal. In adult mammals (including humans), it is unclear if 
chronic oral exposure to copper metal or copper ion results in 
toxicity. The lack of any clear relationship between chronic exposure 
to copper and copper toxicity in adult mammals may be due to 
homeostatic mechanisms that serve to maintain a baseline copper level 
in the body and protect mammals from the adverse effects of copper 
excess or deficiency.
    Human and animal carcinogenic data on copper are insufficient to 
determine the carcinogenic potential of copper in humans.
    2. Environmental effects. Copper ion exhibits high acute and high 
chronic toxicity to aquatic organisms that results in the death of the 
organism. Under section 303 of the CWA, EPA has issued Water Quality 
Criteria for copper ion to protect aquatic life. These criteria 
describe what level of copper ion ambient water can contain without 
potentially causing harm to aquatic species. The acute criterion in 
fresh water is 9.2 parts per billion (ppb) (0.0092 mg/l). The chronic 
criterion in fresh water is 6.5 ppb (0.0065 mg/l). In salt water, the 
acute criterion is 2.9 ppb (0.0029 mg/l). There is currently no chronic 
salt water criterion.
    The aquatic toxicity of copper ion is dependent on water quality 
factors that include acidity, presence of organic substances, calcium, 
and carbonate. Toxicity decreases as water hardness (concentration of 
calcium carbonate), alkalinity or total organic carbon content 
increases. At a water hardness of 250 mg/l, the 48-hour acute toxicity 
median lethal concentration (LC50) of copper ion to daphnids is 
6.5 ppb. At a water hardness of 50 mg/l, the 96-hour acute toxicity 
values in fish ranged from 16.7 ppb (northern squawfish) to 114 ppb 
(for fathead minnows). Copper ion is highly acutely toxic to many other 
aquatic species such as blue mussels (96-hour LC50 = 5.8 ppb) and 
marine fishes (96-hour LC50 = 13.9 ppb). Chronic aquatic toxicity 
values for copper ion include 6.1 ppb (for invertebrates) and 3.9 ppb 
(for brook trout). Copper ion is known to bioconcentrate in certain 
aquatic species. The bioconcentration factors (BCF) of copper in algae 
(Chlorella sp.); marine polychaete worms (Neanthes arenaceodentata); 
and the eastern oyster are 2,000, 2,550, and 28,200 respectively.

IV. Technical Summary

    EPA's technical review concluded that copper metal can be corroded 
by waters under several conditions, resulting in the liberation of 
copper ion. EPA's review also concluded that copper ion is highly toxic 
to many aquatic species.

V. Rationale for Denial

    Copper metal is a listed toxic chemical subject to EPCRA section 
313 and PPA section 6607 reporting requirements. The petition to delist 
copper metal is based on the petitioner's contention that copper metal 
is not toxic and does not meet any of the statutory criteria under 
section 313(d)(2). Because EPA has determined that all forms of copper 
metal meet the criteria of EPCRA section 313(d)(2)(C), EPA concludes 
that copper metal should not be deleted from the section 313 list of 
toxic chemicals, and the petition should be denied.

[[Page 54383]]

    EPA's review of information pertaining to copper metal resulted in 
the conclusion that, (1) copper metal can be readily converted to 
copper ion in waters under environmental conditions; and (2) copper ion 
is highly toxic to aquatic organisms resulting in the death of these 
organisms. Thus, copper metal can reasonably be anticipated to cause 
toxicity in aquatic organisms because of its ability to liberate copper 
ion. Because copper can be reasonably anticipated to be highly ecotoxic 
and induces well-established serious adverse effects, EPA does not 
believe that an exposure assessment is necessary to make the 
determination required by EPCRA section 313(d)(2)(C). For a discussion 
of the use of exposure in EPCRA section 313 listing/delisting 
decisions, see, e.g., 59 FR 61440, November 30, 1994.
    EPA's denial of this petition is consistent with the Agency's 
published policy and guidance on metal compound categories under 
section 313 of EPCRA (56 FR 23703, May 23, 1991). This policy and 
guidance articulated EPA's determination that the toxicity of a metal-
containing compound that dissociates or reacts to generate the metal 
ion can be expressed as a function of the toxicity induced by the 
intact species and the availability of the metal ion. Thus, EPA stated 
that for petitions to exempt individual metal-containing compounds from 
the EPCRA section 313 list of toxic chemicals, EPA bases its decisions 
on the evaluation of all chemical and biological processes that may 
lead to metal ion availability, as well as on the toxicity exhibited by 
the intact species. EPA stated that the Agency will deny petitions for 
chemicals that dissociate or react to generate the metal ion at levels 
which can reasonably be anticipated to cause adverse effects to human 
health or the environment and for which the metal ion availability 
cannot be properly characterized.
    In summary, EPA has determined that copper metal can reasonably be 
anticipated to cause a significant adverse effect on the environment of 
a sufficient seriousness to warrant continued reporting of copper under 
EPCRA section 313 because copper ion is available from copper metal and 
copper ion is highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Therefore, copper 
metal in all forms satisfies the criterion in EPCRA section 
313(d)(2)(C). Accordingly, EPA is denying the petition.

VI. References

    (1) The Merck Index, An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and 
Biologicals. Eleventh Edition (1989). Merck Co., Inc.: Rahway, N.J.; 
page 2516.
    (2) USEPA, OPPTS. 1995. Copper and Compounds. Chemical Summary for 
Copper and Selected Copper Compounds. In: Copper Profile for DfE 
Printed Wiring Board Project (Draft).
    (3) USEPA. 1991. Maximum Contaminant Level Goals and National 
Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper; Final Rule. 
Federal Register, Vol. 56, No. 110, June 7, 1991; pages 26460-26564.
    (4) Toxicological Profile for Copper. Agency for Toxic Substances 
and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Report No. ATSDR/TP-9008.
    (5) USEPA, OHEA. 1987. Summary Review of the Health Effects 
Associated with Copper. Health Issue Assessment. Office of Health and 
Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC; Report No. EPA/600/8-87/001.
    (6) USEPA, ECAO. 1987. Drinking Water Criteria Document for Copper. 
Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office, Cincinnati, OH; Report 
    (7) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Risk 
Information System (IRIS) file pertaining to Copper (CAS No. 7440-50-
    (8) USEPA. 1993. Chromium, Nickel, and Copper in Stainless Steel, 
Brass, and Bronze: Toxic Chemical Release Reporting; Community Right-
to-Know. Federal Register, Vol. 58, No. 123, June 29, 1993; pages 
    (9) USEPA, OPPTS. 1995. Memorandum from Dr. Nicole Paquette, 
Toxicologist, Health and Environmental Review Division. Re: Petition to 
Delist Copper Metal from the Toxics Release Inventory. (September 20, 
    (10) USEPA, OPPTS. 1995. Hazard Assessment of Copper, Memorandum 
from Lorraine Randecker, Hazard Integrator, Chemical Screening and Risk 
Assessment Division, re: Petition to Delist Copper Metal from the 
Toxics Release Inventory. (April, 4, 1996).
    (11) USEPA, OPPTS. 1995. Memorandum from Dr. Jerry Smrchek, 
Biologist, Health and Environmental Review Division, re: Petition to 
Delist Copper Metal from the Toxics Release Inventory. (October 11, 

VII. Administrative Record

    The record supporting this decision is contained in docket control 
number OPPTS-400105. All documents, including the references listed in 
Unit VI. above and an index of the docket, are available to the public 
in the TSCA Non-Confidential Information Center (NCIC), also known as 
the Public Docket Office, from noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
excluding legal holidays. The TSCA NCIC is located at EPA Headquarters, 
Rm. NE-B607, 401 M St., SW., Washington, DC 20460.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 372

    Environmental protection, Community right-to-know, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, and Toxic chemicals.

    Dated: October 8, 1996.
Lynn R. Goldman,
Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic 

[FR Doc. 96-26812 Filed 10-17-96; 8:45 am]