The five chemicals are:
- Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics and polyurethane foam;
- Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used in the manufacture of rubber compounds and lubricants and as a solvent;
- Pentachlorothio-phenol (PCTP), used as an agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
- Tris (4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate, used as a flame retardant in consumer products and other industrial uses; and
- 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol, used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive.
“The threats from persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals are well-documented,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator in EPA’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention, in a statement. “The new law directs us to expedite action to reduce risks for these chemicals, rather than spending more time evaluating them.”
Under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the agency must propose action for these five chemicals by June 22, 2019. Signed into law on June 22, the chemical safety rule amends the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act and requires new testing and regulation of thousands of commonly used chemicals.
Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals are of particular concern because they remain in the environment for significant periods of time and concentrate in the organisms exposed to them. These pollutants can transfer among air, water and land, and span boundaries of geography and generations.
The new law gave manufacturers an opportunity to request by Sept. 19 that the EPA conduct risk evaluations for the PBT chemicals on the agency’s work plan, as an alternative to expedited action. Requests for risk evaluations were made for two chemicals that can be used in fragrance mixtures.
For the remaining PBT chemicals, the agency says it the law requires it to move ahead to take expedited action to reduce exposure to those chemicals to the extent practicable.
After the EPA finishes identifying where these chemicals are used and how people are exposed to them, the agency will propose limitations on their use.
Since the new law took effect, the EPA has also banned exports of five mercury compounds, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
The agency has also posted an Implementation Plan that outlines its first-year plans to implement the new chemical safety rules. It gives chemical companies and others a better idea of what, and when, they can expect in terms of EPA rulemaking and enforcement activities.