Today, EPA announced the promulgation of a final Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) [PDF] under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) targeting three different chemical types: certain benzidine-based dyes, di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP), and alkanes, C12-13, chloro, a short-chain chlorinated paraffin (SCCP). Benzidine-based dyes can be used in textiles, paints, and inks; DnPP in PVC plastics; and alkanes in industrial lubricants. EPA found that all of the affected chemicals can cause health effects including aquatic toxicity, cancer, persistence and bioaccumulation, and reproductive and developmental effects.
Like other SNURs, the rule requires manufacturers (including importers) or processors of the identified substances to notify EPA at least 90 days before beginning any significant new use. Under this SNUR, any new use is considered a significant new use for the benzidine-based dyes and alkanes. For DnPP, EPA has designated “any use other than as a chemical standard for analytical experiments” as a significant new use. For the benzidine-based dyes, EPA is adding nine chemicals to an existing rule regulating benzidine-based chemicals.
Notably, the SNUR makes inapplicable the usual TSCA exemption for importing or processing chemicals as part of an article, calling it a “loophole.” Thus, 90-day notification will be required of importers or processors of any articles containing benzidine-based chemicals, encompassing both the nine newly-added dyes as well as those first regulated in 1996. The elimination of this articles exemption has been questioned by the chemical industry, and marks a shift in EPA’s policy. In today’s SNUR, the agency notes that it is “concerned that commencement of the manufacture (including import) or processing for any new uses, including resumption of past uses… could significantly increase the magnitude and duration of exposure to humans.”
Today’s rule is not the agency’s only effort at regulating these chemicals; benzidine dyes and SCCPs are both already subject to Action Plans, while other phthalates (not including DnPP), as well as medium-chain and long-chain chlorinated paraffins have been added for assessment under the TSCA Work Plan. SCCPs have been nominated for addition to the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants, and manufacturing and importing in the U.S. has ceased following EPA enforcement actions in 2012. EPA also notes that its Design for the Environment program has identified safer dye and colorant alternatives on its Safer Chemical Ingredients List.
The SNUR will go into effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which will likely occur in the next week.