Paint and coating manufacturers will face closer federal scrutiny of 14 chemicals known as glymes, under a new rule being proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA has proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which would require companies to give EPA at least 90 days’ notice before manufacturing, importing or processing these chemicals for a significant new use.
|Glycol diethers (glymes) are solvents used in a wide variety of chemical reactions.|
The notification would allow EPA time to evaluate the new use and, if necessary, prohibit or limit the activity. EPA says the action, part of its chemical management initiatives, is needed to protect consumer health.
Glymes are used in a wide array of applications, including industrial paints and coatings, adhesives, batteries and motor vehicle brake systems.
EPA is concerned about the reproductive and/or developmental toxicity of three glymes—monoglyme, diglyme and ethylglyme—and believes that individuals could suffer adverse effects from their use.
Of the 14 glymes, 12 have industrial or consumer uses of some kind and two have no current uses. Some ongoing uses would be excluded from the new rule. However, any additional use of the chemicals would be considered a significant new use.
Monoglyme is used primarily as an industrial solvent, a process aid, and a component of industrial coatings and lithium batteries. A 2008 EPA Risk Prioritization evaluation found that monoglyme posed a “high concern for potential risk to workers.”
Diglyme is used primarily as a specialty solvent in a wide variety of applications, including as a reaction solvent and in applications in the coating industry. The chemical is used in sealants and adhesives, automotive care products, and paints and coatings.
Ethylglyme currently has no consumer uses but has been found in water sources and its production level appears to be increasing, EPA said. “Given its toxicity, EPA would be concerned if this chemical substance became prevalent in consumer products,” the agency said.
In addition, EPA has concerns about the remaining 11 glymes due to exposure and toxicity information. These include Polyglyme and Tetraglyme, both used in paint removers.
Exposure Review Cited
“EPA further believes that the use of any of these chemical substances in consumer products, beyond the limited, on-going current uses, could significantly increase the magnitude and duration of exposure to humans and the environment over that which would otherwise exist and that such increase should not occur without opportunity for EPA review,” the rule says.
For pentaethylene glycol dibutyl ether and butyltriglyme, which are not currently being used, “EPA believes that any use of these chemical substances could be a significant increase in the magnitude and duration of exposure to humans and the environment,” the rule says.
“This proposed rule would enable EPA to evaluate the use of these chemicals before Americans are subject to additional exposure to them in numerous consumer products,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We need to take a closer look at the potential health effects that additional exposure to these chemicals could have.”
Comments on the proposal are being accepted through Sept. 9, 2011. The proposal and supporting information can be found in docket number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2009–0767 on the Federal eRulemaking Portal.