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October 10, 2013
TSCA rule issued for carpet chemical

In a final Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the EPA is requiring that anyone intending to manufacture, import, or process long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (LCPFAC) for use in the manufacture of carpets or for treating carpets must notify the Agency at least 90 days before commencing that activity. 

In the same action, the Agency is amending a SNUR for perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) chemicals.  Specifically, the amendment adds to the SNUR those PFAS chemical substances that have completed the TSCA new chemical review process but have not yet commenced production or import and designates processing of all listed PFAS chemical substance processing as a significant new use subject to the SNUR 90-day reporting requirement.

Global pollutant

LCPFACs and PFASs have been used to provide carpets with oil and stain resistance and are now found worldwide in the environment, wildlife, and humans.  These substances are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, persistent in the environment, and have been found to produce reproductive, developmental, and systemic effects in laboratory animals. There is particular concern about children ingesting dust generated from the abrasion of carpets treated with these chemicals. 

Discontinued in U.S.

In 2006, the eight major U.S. companies producing LCPFAC chemicals voluntarily committed to reducing global emissions and product content of LCPFAC chemicals by the end of 2015.  As part of this phaseout program, the industry stopped using LCPFAC chemicals on carpets and in aftercare treatment products. 

However, the EPA is concerned that these chemicals are being imported as parts of articles.  Hence, the main purpose of the rule is to apply TSCA SNUR authority to the import of these substances.  Once the EPA receives a TSCA Significant New Use Notification (SNUN), the Agency has the statutory authority to evaluate and, if necessary, control activities associated with the new uses to protect against unreasonable risk posed by the chemicals.

The EPA states that the SNUR provides a level playing field for those companies that stepped up to cease the use of these chemicals in this country while at the same time protecting the American public from exposure to these chemicals when they are in imported carpet products.

Article exemption

SNUR general provisions at 40 CFR Part 721 provide an exemption to reporting requirements for uses of a chemical occurring before the effective date of the final SNUR.   However, in this action, the EPA is making the exemption inapplicable to persons who import LCPFAC chemical substances as part of carpets.   But the article’s exemption will remain in effect for persons who process chemical substances as part of an article because existing stocks of carpets may still contain LCPFAC substances. 

The final SNUR

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