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toxic chemical

Rule Keeps Harmful Chemicals Out of Marketplace

toxic chemicalThe EPA has issued a rule to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the marketplace.

Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, says the move will “level the playing field” for US businesses. These chemicals, which can harm human health and the environment, are no longer used in the US but find their way into commerce, sometimes through imported products.

The action addresses the following chemicals:

  • Most uses of certain benzidine-based dyes which can be used in textiles, paints and inks and can be converted in the body into a chemical that is known to cause cancer;
  • Most uses of DnPP, a phthalate, which can be used in PVC plastics and shown to cause developmental and/or reproductive effects in laboratory animals; and
  • Alkanes C 12-13, chloro, a short-chain chlorinated paraffin (SCCP), which can be used as industrial lubricants and are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic to aquatic organisms at low concentrations and can be transported globally in the environment.

Some of the chemicals in today’s rule have previously been used in consumer products but are not used in the market today. Today’s Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act allows the EPA to review any efforts by manufacturers, including importers, to introduce these chemicals into the market and take appropriate action to ensure that human health and the environment are protected.

The agency says that new uses of these chemicals should not be allowed without an opportunity for review and, if necessary, to place restrictions on these chemicals, as warranted.

The action adds nine benzidine-based dyes to an existing SNUR. It closes a loophole to ensure that these chemicals and products containing them, such as clothing, cannot be imported without an EPA review and possible restriction. The EPA has investigated safer dyes and colorants as alternatives to benzidine as part of its Safer Chemical Ingredients List and Design for the Environment program.

In 2012, EPA required companies to stop manufacturing and importing SCCPs and to pay fines as a result of an enforcement action. The SCCPs have been proposed for addition to the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants.

The EPA is further evaluating related medium-chain and long-chain chlorinated paraffins as part of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments.

The EPA has added several phthalates to the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments. If a TSCA Work Plan assessment indicates a potential risk, the agency would determine if risk reduction actions, as appropriate, should be taken.

These final SNURs will require anyone who wishes to manufacture (including import) or process these chemical substances for a significant new use to notify EPA 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals. This notice will provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of the chemicals and, if necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the activity.

Last month the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration has developed a step-by-step toolkit to help businesses eliminate or reduce hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

Photo Credit: toxic chemical via Shutterstock

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