Chemical Manufacturing Federal agencies Workplace exposures

EPA seeks bans on two chemicals; ponders banning a third

Reprints
TSCA.jpg
Image: Skyhobo/iStockphoto

Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing bans on certain uses of the chemicals trichloroethylene and methylene chloride, and is asking for input on whether to restrict use of N-Methylpyrrolidone, also known as NMP.

One proposed rule would prohibit manufacture (including import), processing and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in vapor degreasing. It also would require manufacturers, processors and distributors to notify retailers and others in the supply chain about the ban. In 2014, EPA determined that TCE may cause cancer, developmental and neurotoxicological effects, and toxicity to the liver, among other adverse health effects. This past December, EPA proposed to ban use of TCE as a degreaser and spot removal agent in dry cleaning because of associated health risks. Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

A second proposed rule would prohibit all manufacturing, processing and commercial distribution of methylene chloride for use in paint removal. The rule would require manufacturers, processors and distributors to notify retailers and others in the supply chain about the ban. In 2014, EPA found that methylene chloride may cause cancer, harm to the central nervous system and toxicity to the liver, among other adverse health effects. The agency will seek separate regulatory action for the chemical's use in commercial furniture refinishing.

EPA also is seeking input on two potential approaches involving NMP. One would prohibit manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of NMP when used as a paint remover. The other would include limiting the amount of NMP in paint removal products, providing consumer warning labels and requiring workers to wear specialized gloves and other equipment. In 2015, the agency determined that NMP posed particular risks to pregnant women and women of childbearing age who had high exposure to the chemical through paint or coating removal. Comments will be due 90 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

Certain national security uses of methylene chloride and NMP would be exempt from the bans.

The three chemicals are among the first 10 EPA is evaluating for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)