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EPA Floats New Chemical Limits

Thursday, March 22, 2012

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Companies would face potential limits on new uses of five groups of chemicals, including some used in pigments and paints, under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The five new groups would join a host of existing chemicals now covered by EPA Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

PBDEs and other flame-retardant chemicals are on EPA’s phase-out list. 

 Matt MacGillivray/CC BY 2.0

PBDEs and other flame-retardant chemicals are on EPA’s phase-out list. The agency plans to conduct more health and environmental testing of PBDEs and scrutinize any new uses of the chemicals.

The rules require companies to report all “significant” new uses of the designated “potentially harmful” chemicals, in domestic and imported products, to allow EPA to review the plan and, if warranted, take action to limit or prohibit the activity.

The significance of a new use depends on the new exposures presented, the anticipated volume of manufacturing and distribution, disposal concerns and other issues.

5 Chemicals Targeted

The new list consists of five categories of chemicals that have been used for years in a range of consumer products and industrial applications, including paints, printing inks, pigments and dyes in textiles, flame retardants in flexible foams, and plasticizers.

The newly targeted chemicals EPA are:

• Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), used as flame retardants in a number of applications;

• Benzidine dyes;

• Short-chain chlorinated paraffins;

• Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), another category of flame retardants; and

• Phthalate di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP), used as plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products.

For PBDEs, the agency has also simultaneously issued a proposed test rule that would require manufacturers or processors to conduct testing on health and environmental effects of those chemicals.

‘Opportunity to Review’

“Although a number of these chemicals are no longer manufactured or used in the U.S., they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in products,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“Today’s proposed actions will ensure that EPA has an opportunity to review new uses of the chemicals, whether they are domestically produced or imported, and if warranted, take action to prohibit or limit the activity before human health or environmental effects can occur.”

He added, “These actions also signal EPA’s ongoing commitment to the American people that the agency is taking significant steps to make sure that the chemicals manufactured and used in this country are safe.”

90-Day Notification

The proposed rules would require anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the chemicals for a significant new use to notify the EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. EPA will then evaluate the intended new use and, if necessary, act on it.

The new rules were identified in action plans the agency issued over the last two years regarding these and other chemicals.


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; Regulations

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