September 2003; Revised May 2006
Below are recommendations for the suggested format and types of information to submit to the agency in an environmental assessment. An alternative approach may be used if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.
- Date: The environmental assessment (EA) should provide the date the EA was prepared.
- Name of submitter: The EA should identify the submitter.
- Address: The EA should provide the business address for the submitter.
Description of the proposed action: FDA recommends that the EA describe the proposed action by addressing the following:
- Requested action: FDA recommends that the EA describe the requested action by naming the processing aid that is the subject of the action, by describing the proposed use of the processing aid, including any limitations, and by providing the use level. For food additive petitions, the EA should identify the proposed regulation by providing the section(s) of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to be amended, if known. FDA recommends that the description of the proposed use in the EA is consistent with the use requested and described in other sections of the submission.
- Need for action: The EA must include brief discussions of the need for the proposal (21 CFR 25.40). The description of the proposal, e.g., the intended technical effect of the food additive or food contact substance, should be consistent with other sections of the submission.
- Locations of use/disposal: (1) The EA should describe briefly the locations where the processing aid will be used in the processing/manufacturing of food-packaging material. FDA recommends that you describe these sites in general terms, e.g., polymer production plants, paper mills. In addition, the EA should describe, to the extent possible, the types of environments that might be affected such as the workplace, surface waters receiving liquid production wastes, and areas subject to air emissions.
Identification of substances that are the subject of the proposed action: FDA recommends that the EA identify fully the processing aid by providing sufficient information to locate accurately data about the processing aid in the scientific literature, to identify closely related substances, and to use structure-activity relationships (SAR) programs to predict the fate and effects of the processing aid. Information presented elsewhere in the submission may be repeated here so that the EA is a complete and independent document. The EA should contain:
- Complete nomenclature
- Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) registration number (if available)
- Molecular weight
- Molecular formula
- Structural (graphic) formula
- Physical description; for example, white solid; powder.
Introduction of substances into the environment
- Introduction of substances into the environment as a result of manufacture: FDA routinely does not ask that information about environmental introductions resulting from the production of an FDA-regulated articles be included in an EA. (2) However, the preparer of an EA should determine if any extraordinary circumstances pertain to the manufacture of the substance. Extraordinary circumstances include situations where 1) unique emission circumstances are not adequately addressed by general or specific emission requirements (including occupational) promulgated by Federal, State or local environmental agencies and the emissions may harm the environment; 2) a proposed action threatens a violation of Federal, State or local environmental laws or requirements (40 CFR 1508.27(b)(10)); and 3) production associated with a proposed action may affect adversely a species or the critical habitat of a species determined under the Endangered Species Act or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to be endangered or threatened, or wild fauna or flora that are entitled to special protection under some other Federal law. If extraordinary circumstances apply to the manufacture of the processing aid, such as those outlined above, the EA must discuss any reasonable alternative course of action that offers less environmental risk or that is preferable environmentally to the proposed action (21 CFR 25.40(a)). If no extraordinary circumstances apply to the manufacture of the processing aid, FDA recommends that the EA include a statement to that effect.
- Introduction of substances into the environment as a result of use/disposal: The EA should discuss any introductions of substances into the environment resulting from the use and disposal of the processing aid. Such substances may include the processing aid, its degradation products, and/or any other substance resulting from the use of the processing aid. CFSAN believes that, in general, introductions of substances into the environment occur as a result of the disposal of the processing aid after its use in manufacturing/processing of food-packaging material. FDA recommends that you discuss the introduction of substances into the environment, and include 1) an estimate of the maximum yearly market volume of the processing aid for the proposed use based on total fifth year production estimates; 2) the percent of that amount that will enter the waste stream at the site where the processing aid is used to manufacture/process food-packaging material; (3) 3) the mode by which the substances are introduced into the environment; e.g., continuous or intermittent (batch) and at what frequency if it is intermittent, e.g., once a week; 4) the expected concentration of the substances introduced into the environment at these sites (EIC), (4) e.g., concentrations in air emissions, wastewater effluents, solid waste (including sewage sludge), and the workplace; and 5) the material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for substances to which workers are expected to be exposed. Since food-packaging manufacturing/processing plants vary in production capacity, FDA recommends that you calculate the most conservative estimate of the EIC(s). You should state all assumptions, show all calculations, and provide the basis for the calculations. If your calculations and the basis for those calculations are protected from disclosure under 18 U.S.C. 1905, 21 U.S.C. 331(j) or 360j(c), such data and information must be submitted separately in a confidential section of the submission and must be summarized, to the extent possible, in the EA (21 CFR 25.51(a)). FDA recommends that the EIC(s) be used to calculate the expected environmental concentrations (EEC(s)) (5) of the substances under Format Item 7 and, in combination with information provided under Format Item 8, to determine whether the proposed action has potential for significant environmental effects.
Fate of substances released into the environment: FDA recommends using the EIC(s) calculated above in Format Item 6 and available information regarding the fate parameters for substances introduced into the environment, when estimating the EEC(s) for these substances. (6) Environmental fate may include the following:
- Physical/chemical properties such as water solubility, dissociation constants in water, n-octanol/ water partition coefficient (Kow), and vapor pressure or Henry's Law constant.
- Environmental depletion mechanisms such as adsorption coefficient (Koc), aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation, hydrolysis, and photolysis. (7)
You may want to use FDA's Environmental Assessment Technical Handbook (Table of Contents as Attachment 1) that contains technical assistance documents as guidance for environmental fate testing (Sections 3.01-3.12). You also may want to consider using environmental fate test protocols based on scientifically validated methods issued by other organizations, e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; see 40 CFR part 796 for EPA's Chemical Fate Testing Guidelines, or EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) Harmonized Test Guidelines: 835 - Fate, Transport and Transformation Test Guidelines) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; the OECD's Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, Section 1--PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL PROPERTIES and Section 3--DEGRADATION AND ACCUMULATION are available on the Internet). Actual experimental data regarding physical/chemical properties and environmental depletion mechanisms are generally preferable to computer modeling; however, you may consider using fate prediction models such as the structure-activity relationships (SAR) programs when data about substances are not available. CFSAN will evaluate your modeling predictions and the applicability of the program you use to the substance(s) in question. If CFSAN determines that a predicted value is not applicable to a substance, it may recommend testing. The estimate(s) of the EEC(s) in various environmental compartments (air, water, soil, workplace) should also consider dilution, e.g., the water in receiving streams will dilute entering effluents; the soil with which sewage sludge is mixed will dilute the sludge. If a substance has a high Kow, it may persist in the environment, therefore, you should consider its potential to bioaccumulate. We suggest that you use a table, such as the Sample Data Summary Table (Attachment 2) to summarize environmental fate data.
Environmental effects of released substances: FDA recommends that the EA compare the EEC(s) of the substances to the relevant toxicity endpoints (e.g., EC50, LC50) so that the potential for adverse environmental effects may be determined. The EA should report, or incorporate by reference, existing data relating to the environmental effects of the substance(s) introduced into the environment as a result of the use of the processing aid to manufacture/process food-packaging materials. The EA should report the toxicity of these substances to laboratory animals (submitted to satisfy human safety requirements) and their toxicity to organisms that may be exposed in the environment, e.g., vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, fungi, and bacteria. FDA recommends that you consider environmental testing if no effects data are available, or if the data are available only for species not representative of those found in environments predicted to have significant concentrations of the substances. Chronic toxicity testing should be considered for substances that persist in the environment and have the potential to bioaccumulate. You may want to consider using FDA's Environmental Assessment Technical Handbook (Table of Contents as Attachment 1) that contains protocols (Sections 4.01-4.12) that may be used for conducting environmental effects tests. You also may want to consider using environmental toxicity test protocols based on scientifically validated methods used by other organizations, e.g., EPA (see 40 CFR part 797 for EPA's Environmental Effects Testing Guidelines, or EPA's OPPTS Harmonized Test Guidelines: 850 - Ecological Effects Test Guidelines) and OECD (the OECD's Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, Section 1--PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL PROPERTIES and Section 3--DEGRADATION AND ACCUMULATION are available on the Internet). Actual experimental data regarding environmental effects are generally preferable to computer modeling; however, you may consider using effects prediction models such as the structure-activity relationships (SAR) programs when data about substances are not available. CFSAN will evaluate your modeling predictions and the applicability of the program you use to the substance(s) in question. If CFSAN determines that a predicted value is not applicable to a substance, it may recommend testing. We suggest that you use a table, such as the Sample Data Summary Table (Attachment 2) to summarize environmental effects data. If your comparison of the EECs with the toxicity endpoints shows that an EEC exceeds a toxicity endpoint after taking appropriate safety factors into consideration, then adverse environmental effects may occur.
Existing laws and regulations may apply to introductions resulting from use and disposal of the processing aid. If this is the case, FDA recommends that the EA cite the specific laws and regulations and discuss how such laws and regulations will control the introduction of substances into the environment and prevent adverse environmental impacts. FDA recommends that such a discussion consider, based on the environmental fate and effects information provided under Format Items 7 and 8, whether the proposed use presents unique emissions circumstances that would threaten a violation of such laws and regulations.
If you think that there are uncertainties about the potential for, or significance of, environmental effects, we recommend that you consult CFSAN for specific guidance.
- Use of resources and energy: FDA recommends that the EA state whether the requested use of the processing aid is intended to compete with and replace another processing aid already used in the manufacturing/processing of food-packaging material such that there is essentially no effect on the use of natural resources and energy. If so, the EA should contain a brief justification for this conclusion and identify the processing aid(s) being replaced. Otherwise, FDA recommends that the EA specify the natural resources, including land use, minerals, and energy, required to produce, transport, use, and/or dispose of wastes generated from production, use, and/or disposal of the processing aid.
- Mitigation measures: The EA must describe mitigation measures, which are not included in the proposed action or alternatives, for the purpose of avoiding or mitigating potential adverse environmental impacts associated with the proposed action (40 CFR 1502.14(f) and 1502.16(h); 21 CFR 25.40(a)). The EA must include environmental impacts of the proposed action (21 CFR 25.40(a)). Thus, if, based upon a review of adequate and complete data and information, no adverse environmental effects have been identified, you need to state that in the EA.
- Alternatives to the proposed action: If potential adverse environmental impacts have been identified for the proposed action, the EA must describe the environmental impact of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action (including no action, and including measures that FDA or another government agency could undertake as well as those the submitter could undertake) (40 CFR 1502.14 and 1502.16). The EA must describe any reasonable course of action that offers less environmental risk or that is preferable environmentally to the proposed action (21 CFR 25.40(a)). The EA should discuss the environmental benefits and risks of the proposed action and of each alternative.
- List of preparers: The EA should list the name, job title, and qualifications (e.g., educational background or professional discipline) for each person preparing the EA. The EA must identify any persons or agencies consulted (21 CFR 25.40(a)).
Certification: FDA recommends that the EA provide a signed and dated statement such as the following:
"The undersigned official certifies that the information presented is true, accurate, and complete to the best of the knowledge of (insert company name)."
(Signature of responsible official)
(Name and title of responsible official, printed)
- References: The EA should provide complete citations for all materials referenced in the EA either in footnotes within the EA or as endnotes under this format item.
- Attachments: The EA should provide a list of any materials that are attached to the EA. Confidential materials must not be attached to the EA, but must be provided in a separate section of the submission, as provided in 21 CFR 25.51(a).
(1) The term "Locations of use/disposal" refers to the sites of use of the processing aid, not the locations where the processing aid itself is produced or manufactured. If the suggested descriptions of use/disposal sites provided in subsection 4.c are not applicable for the processing aid, FDA recommends that you provide the appropriate descriptions. (Return to text)
(2) After reviewing hundreds of EAs, the agency found that FDA-regulated articles produced in compliance with applicable emission and occupational safety requirements do not affect the environment significantly. Therefore, as provided in 21 CFR 25.40(a), the EA must focus on relevant environmental issues relating to the use and disposal from use of FDA-regulated articles. (Return to text)
(3) For example, assume that 100,000 kilograms (kg) of the processing aid is the maximum yearly market volume for the proposed use. If 90,000 kg of this amount enters the waste stream at a food packaging production/processing site and if 10,000 kg stays with food-packaging, then the percentage of the market volume of the processing aid that enters the environment at the site(s) of production/processing of food packaging material will be 90%. (Return to text)
(4) The EIC is the expected introduction concentration as a result of use of the processing aid. For processing aids that do not stay with the food-packaging material, the EIC would be pertinent to the use sites of the processing aid (e.g., food-packaging production/processing plants). FDA recommends that your estimates consider any emissions control devices (e.g., scrubbers that control air emissions) or pre-release treatment processes (e.g., on-site primary, secondary, or tertiary wastewater treatment), along with any relevant environmental fate processes reported under Format Item 7. Please note that if you claim environmental introductions are limited because of pre-release wastewater treatment processes, FDA recommends that the claim be supported by appropriate biodegradation data for the processing aid under Format Item 7. All calculations used in making your estimates should be included. (Return to text)
(5) The EEC is the expected concentration of a substance that organisms would be exposed to in the environment after consideration of fate parameters. The EEC is usually lower than the EIC. (Return to text)
(6) If the degradation products are persistent in the environment, the EA should identity these products and provide any available fate data about them. (Return to text)
(7) If a depletion mechanism is being used to claim a reduction in the expected introduction and/or environmental concentrations, FDA recommends that you provide an analysis of the depletion mechanism (e.g., according to a standard test method, analysis of expected exposure time in the environment, test protocols and test data). (Return to text)
The above guidance document supercedes the previous version dated September 2003.
Submit comments on this guidance document electronically via docket ID: FDA-2013-S-0610 - Specific Electronic Submissions Intended For FDA's Dockets Management Staff (i.e., Citizen Petitions, Draft Proposed Guidance Documents, Variances, and other administrative record submissions)
If unable to submit comments online, please mail written comments to:
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
All comments should be identified with the title of the guidance.