TSCA dates to 1976 as Federal law and includes an inventory of chemical compounds that were considered to be “hazardous” at the time. In instances where non-hazardous chemical compounds, as used when the law took hold, are repurposed in ways that could potentially impact human health or the environment, TSCA requires that those compounds be added to the inventory.
To that end, and after public comment and considerable deliberation, EPA is now requiring that anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the 29 substances listed under the new rule notify the Agency within 60 days. After that, the manufacture, processing, and/or distribution for the significant new use cannot be done until EPA has conducted a review of the notice; made an appropriate determination on the notice; and taken action required by that determination.
Members of the nonwovens industry could be impacted by this action if they “manufacture, process or use [any of the 29] chemical substances contained in this rule.”
Those who import chemicals are also subject to certification requirements under the rule and, as such, must certify that import shipments for any of these 29 chemical compounds comply with all applicable rules and orders under TSCA. Importers of these compounds now must also certify compliance with SNUR requirements.
EPA is promulgating these SNUR requirements through use of direct final procedures that require at least 90 days’ notice to the Agency before “…commencing the manufacture or processing of a chemical substance for any activity designated by these SNURs as a significant new use. Receipt of such notices allows EPA to assess risks that may be presented by the intended uses and, if appropriate, to regulate the proposed use before it occurs.”
When it comes to opportunity, with regard to the 29 chemical compounds covered under the new rule, use of respirators —including those made with nonwoven components—will be required to limit exposures or “otherwise mitigate the potential unreasonable risk.”
As noted in the preamble to the final rule:
“Where EPA determined that the PMN substance may present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health via inhalation exposure, the underlying TSCA section 5(e) consent order usually requires, among other things, that potentially exposed employees wear specified respirators unless actual measurements of the workplace air show that air-borne concentrations of the PMN substance are below a New Chemical Exposure Limit (NCEL) that is established by EPA to provide adequate protection to human health.”
When it comes to potential challenges, however, some of the chemical compounds included in EPA’s SNUR list include:
- Pulp, cellulose, and reaction products with lignin when used as plastic reinforcement. EPA has determined it’s a significant new use to “…manufacture the solid particle form more than six months without measuring the particle size distribution to characterize the particle size distribution of fractions less than 10 microns of the dry particle PMN substance and sending the results of [those] measurement to EPA.”
- Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (generic) “used as additives for electro-static discharge (ESD) in…materials; additives for weight reduction in materials; additives to improve mechanical properties or electrical conductivities; heat-generating elements in…materials; additives for heat transfer and thermal emissions in electronic devices and materials; semi-conductor, conductive, or resistive elements in electronic circuitry and devices; additives to improve conductivity in electronic circuitry, energy storage systems, and devices; electron emitters for lighting and x-ray sources; additive for electromagnetic interface shielding in electronic devices; additives for electrodes in electronic materials and electronic devices; catalyst support in chemical manufacturing; coating additives to improve corrosion resistance or conductive properties; additives for fibers in structural and electrical applications; additives for fibers in fabrics and textiles; filter additives to remove nanoscale materials; semi-conducting compounding additives far high-voltage cable; and additives for super-hydrophobicity.”
- Hydroxy functional triglyceride polymer with glycerol mono-ester and 1,1’-methylenebis[4-isocyanatobenzene] (P-16-330) and Hydroxy functional triglyceride polymer with glycerol mono-ester and 1,1’-methylenebis[isocyanatobenzene] (P-16-331) (generic) used as adhesives.
- Aliphatic polycarboxylic acid, polymer with alicyclic polyhydric alcohol and polyoxyalkylene (generic) when used as an additive for a polymer.
- Alkyl bisphenol (generic) used as a component of printing ink.
The docket for this rulemaking – including a full list of the 29 chemical compounds subject to restriction as well as public comments filed while the rule was under consideration – can be found at www.regulations.gov by searching under “EPA Final Rule SNURs.”
More information: Kenneth Moss, Chemical Control Division in EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, 202-564-9232; email@example.com or TSCA hotline TSCA-Hotline@epa.gov or 202-554-1404.
As noted in the January, 2017, edition of Capitol Comments, the District of Columbia’s City Council enacted a law late last year, the “Nonwoven Disposable Products Act of 2016,” that prohibits DC sale for any nonwoven product labeled to be “flushable” as of January 1, 2018, unless that product can meet flushability standards which, under the law, were to be developed by DC’s Office of Energy and Environment (DOEE) prior to the January 1 deadline.
To date there are reports that competing sets of proposed standards for “flushability” have been presented to DOEE – one set from the nonwovens industry and another from the association that represents municipal waste water organizations. Kimberly-Clark has also filed a court case under corporate First Amendment and other grounds challenging the DC law.
Against this backdrop, numerous requests for comment to the office of Council Member Mary M. Cheh – author of the bill – and DOEE representatives regarding status of regulatory implementation have gone unanswered.
So, at present, it appears to be anybody’s guess as to when standards needed to make the new DC law effective will be enacted. Maybe after the K-C suit is decided?