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EPA to ‘Fast-Track’ Five Chemicals

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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Flame retardant chemicals used in polyurethane foam and consumer products are listed among the five chemicals the federal Environmental Protection Agency is looking to take “swift” action on.

EPA says it is moving quickly to carry out requirements in the recently passed Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act and to reduce exposure to certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals, the agency announced Tuesday (Oct. 11). The Act was the first major amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act in 40 years.

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The new amendments to TSCA were designed to bring significant improvements to public health.

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, according to the EPA. These pollutants can transfer among air, water and land, and span boundaries of geography and generations.

‘Well Documented Threats’

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.

“The new law directs us to expedite action to reduce risks for these chemicals, rather than spending more time evaluating them. We are working to ensure the [act] signed in June of this year delivers on the promise of better protecting the environment and public health as quickly as possible.”

5 Chemicals

The five chemicals to receive expedited action 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.

Implementing Change

The new law gave manufacturers an opportunity to request EPA conduct risk evaluations for the PBT chemicals on EPA’s 2014 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, EPA must move ahead to take expedited action to reduce exposure to those chemicals to the extent practicable, the agency said.

After the agency identifies where these chemicals are used and how people are exposed to them, it will move directly to propose limitations on their use. Among other limitations, the EPA could prohibit or otherwise restrict manufacturing, processing or distribution of the chemical in commerce; require minimum warning labels and instructions; or regulate any manner or method of commercial usage.

The statutory deadline for EPA to propose action is June 22, 2019. EPA estimates that more than 84,000 chemicals are to be assessed under the updated TSCA.

More information about the fast-track chemicals is here.

   

Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Construction chemicals; EPA; Polyurethane; Regulations

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