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EPA Withdraws New Cadmium Rule

Friday, January 11, 2013

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Under pressure from producers, the U.S. government has reversed a brand-new rule that would have increased safety disclosure requirements for products containing cadmium, used in some protective coatings, fillers and abrasive blast media.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the final rule Dec. 3 under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(d). The measure, which was to take effect Jan. 2, required reporting of unpublished cadmium-related health and safety studies by manufacturers and importers.

Abrasive blasting

Abrasive blasters may be exposed to cadmium, lead and other metals on the job.

The International Cadmium Association immediately protested the measure in a letter that demanded more time for review and implementation..

'Arbitrary and Capricious'

The letter called the rule "arbitrary and capricious" and said the measure was "far broader in scope and economic impact than would be necessary to address the legitimate questions that have been raised about potential consumer exposure to cadmium and cadmium compounds."

Specifically, the producers challenged a provision that would have required them to determine whether cadmium or cadmium compounds  “have been, or are reasonably likely to be, incorporated into consumer products.” The producers said the provision offered no clear standard or guidance on how such a determination should be made.

On Dec. 14, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics announced that it had "decided to withdraw the immediate final rule.”

On Dec. 28, the EPA withdrew the rule, effective immediately, in a Federal Register announcement.

Objections, Questions Cited

The announcement said the agency had "received a number of letters ... asking questions and raising concerns about the scope and extent" of the measure, indicating "significant confusion and uncertainty ... in certain industrial sectors subject to the final rule."

EPA said that some of the points raised in the letters "warrant additional consideration." The announcement offered no details.

Cadmium-coated component
International Cadmium Association

Cadmium coatings applied to iron, steel, brass and aluminum provide resistance to corrosion in most conditions and especially in marine and alkaline environments, the International Cadmium Association reports.

The rule was issued in response to a May 28, 2010, petition from environmental groups and as part of a joint effort with the Consumer Products Safety Commission to reduce exposure to cadmium, especially by children in products such as children’s jewelry products.

Cadmium Exposures

Cadmium, a highly toxic carcinogen, is also used in some anti-corrosion pigments, coatings, plating products and abrasive blast media.

OSHA estimates that 300,000 workers are exposed to cadmium in the United States. Worker exposure to cadmium can occur in all industry sectors, but occurs mostly in manufacturing and construction. Workers may be exposed during smelting and refining of metals, and manufacturing coatings, plastics, solar panels and batteries.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Abrasives; Exposure conditions; Health and safety; Metal coatings; Workers

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