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Under Fire, EPA Withdraws Cadmium Rule

The EPA has withdrawn a controversial rule governing the reporting of cadmium and cadmium compounds, admitting the regulation had caused serious confusion and uncertainty.

In an email dated December 14, the agency withdrew the rule it issued under section 8(d) of the Toxic Substances Control Act, saying, “There is significant confusion and uncertainty within certain industrial sectors concerning the rule,” according to law firm Crowell & Moring.

In a pre-publication notice of December 20, the EPA said that since the final rule’s issuance, it received a number of letters raising concerns about the regulation’s extent. The agency said it believes some of the points raised warrant the EPA’s consideration.

The rule was a precedent-setting move that was troubling for businesses, according to Lynn Bergeson, managing director of law firm Bergeson & Campbell, PC. Writing in Chemical Processing, Bergeson said the regulations required that any companies that manufactured or imported cadmium in the past ten years, or even proposed doing so, submit to the EPA any data they have that bears on the chemical’s health or environmental effects.

The rule was finalized in early December, and stipulated that these studies were due to the EPA by March 4.

Cadmium is found in thousands of consumer goods, especially electronics – so many companies subject to the rule might not have been aware of their reporting duties, Bergeson says.

The rule’s scope was also vast, with the covered “consumer products” including items used in and around homes as well as temporary residences, schools and recreational areas, Bergeson says. The reguation’s applicability to cadmium at “any measurable level” was likewise sweeping, she says.

Bergeson says the rule extended TSCA’s domain from just chemicals to products themselves, and applied regardless of whether there’s any potential for the cadmium to pose an exposure risk.

The EPA’s economic analysis also failed to address economic costs to importers of consumer products, law firm Crowell & Moring said.

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