EPA issues SNUR restricting imports of allegedly harmful category of chemicals used in carpets.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Monday that it will soon finalize a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) that will allow the agency to restrict imports of potentially harmful long-chain perfluoralkyl carboxylates (LCPFACs) that could be used in carpets. The regulation will require companies to submit a notification 90 days in advance of manufacturing, importing, or processing LCPFACs that will be used as part of carpets or carpet treatment products. LCPFACs, a sub-category of perfluorinated chemical (PFC), include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as “C8”), other higher homologues, and their salts and precursors.

The final rule [PDF], which is authorized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was originally proposed in August 2012, following the U.S. chemical industry’s voluntary phase-out of these chemicals. In 2006, the eight major U.S. manufacturers of fluoropolymers and telomers committed to the EPA’s voluntary 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program. The companies committed to achieving a 95% reduction in emissions and product content levels of PFOA and related substances by 2010, and elimination of such chemicals by 2015.

While the new final rule makes TSCA’s articles exemption inapplicable to imports of LCPFACs in carpets, other articles containing LCPFACs are not affected. EPA has previously issued three other SNURS addressing perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFAS), another sub-category of PFC. The new rule will add new chemicals to the existing PFAS SNUR and amend the SNUR to include ”processing” in the definition of “significant new use” for PFAS chemicals. EPA anticipates proposing another SNUR on additional PFCs in early 2014 as well as SNURs on other chemicals that will include imported products.

As part of its long term action plan regarding long-chain PFCs, EPA will also evaluate the effects of such chemicals on children and other sub-populations Although long-chain PFCs have not been found to cause significant adverse effects in the general human population, they have caused reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxic effects on laboratory animals, bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife, and are persistent in the environment. Therefore, EPA anticipates that continued exposure could result in adverse outcomes.

Further information on the new final rule and other actions EPA has taken on perfluorinated chemicals can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/pfcs.html#final.