EPA has proposed significant new use rules (SNURs) for three flame retardants under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The three flame retardants are tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), and triphenyl phosphate (TPP). All three substances are currently undergoing TSCA risk evaluations. The proposed significant new uses are manufacture (including import) or processing for any use, except for those uses being considered in the risk evaluations. In the Federal Register notice, EPA explained that significant new uses would encompass the following categories:
- Manufacture and processing for uses that have ceased;
- Manufacture and processing for uses that have not yet ceased but for which all manufacture and processing has ceased; and
- Manufacture and processing for uses for which EPA has no information demonstrating that the use has previously commenced in the United States.
The Agency sought public comment on its description of the significant new uses for the chemicals identified, including specific documentation of ongoing uses not identified by the Agency in the risk evaluation scope documents.
EPA noted that “The issuance of a SNUR is not a risk determination itself, only a notification requirement for ‘‘significant new uses,’’ so that the Agency has the opportunity to review the [Significant New Use Notification] for the significant new use and make a TSCA section 5(a)(3) risk determination.” In other words, “Once EPA receives a SNUN, EPA must either determine that the significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury or take such regulatory action as is associated with an alternative determination under TSCA section 5 before the manufacture (including import) or processing for the significant new use can commence.”
In its discussion of the significant new use determination, EPA explained that the Agency considered information about the toxicity or expected toxicity of these substances, likely human exposures and environmental releases associated with possible uses, and the four factors listed in TSCA section 5(a)(2):
- The projected volume of manufacturing and processing of a chemical substance,
- The extent to which a use changes the type or form of exposure of human beings or the environment to a chemical substance,
- The extent to which a use increases the magnitude and duration of exposure of human beings or the environment to a chemical substance and
- The reasonably anticipated manner and methods of manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce, and disposal of a chemical substance.
According to the Federal Register Notice, current uses of TCEP are as follows: TCEP is imported into the United States and processed for commercial use in paints and coatings, for industrial or commercial use in polymers for use in aerospace equipment and products, and for commercial use as a laboratory chemical.
EPA found that TBBPA is currently manufactured (including imported) in the United States. It is processed as a reactant or intermediate to create other flame retardants; incorporated into formulation, mixture, or reaction products; and incorporated into articles. The Agency noted that the predominant uses for TBBPA are as a reactive flame retardant in electrical and electronic products and as an additive flame retardant in electrical and electronic products. In addition, epoxy resin containing TBBPA can be used in adhesives, laminate for aviation and automobile interiors and building/ construction materials.
The Agency reported that TPP is manufactured (including imported) in the United States. It is processed as a reactant; incorporated into formulation, mixture, or reaction products; and incorporated into articles. Commercial uses include in plastic and rubber products and in paints and coatings. The chemical is also used in lubricants and greases. In addition, consumer uses were reported in foam seating and bedding products.
Comments can be viewed in docket EPA–HQ–OPPT–2023–0012 at regulations.gov.