Rules Proposed to Limit New Uses of Potentially Harmful Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that companies be required to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic or imported products, of five groups of potentially harmful chemicals. Over the years, these chemicals have been used 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. This action is part of EPA’s work to ensure chemical safety in order to protect Americans’ health and the environment.

The five chemicals EPA is targeting are polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), benzidine dyes, a short chain chlorinated paraffin, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and phthalate di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP). The agency is also proposing additional testing on the health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

“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. 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,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “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.”

The proposed regulatory actions are known as significant new use rules (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed rules would require that anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the chemicals for an activity that is designated as a significant new use to submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. This notification means EPA can evaluate the intended new use and take action to prohibit or limit that activity, if warranted. For PBDEs, the agency will also issue simultaneously a proposed test rule under section 4(a) of TSCA that would require manufacturers or processors to conduct testing on health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

Today’s proposed SNURs were identified in action plans the agency issued on these and other chemicals during the last two years. Information on these chemical-specific rules and the agency’s action plans, including additional actions under consideration or development, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/ 

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