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EPA extends comment periods for proposed rules on three chemicals

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Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency on April 18 announced it is extending public comment periods on two proposed rules: one for the toxic chemical trichloroethylene when used as a commercial vapor degreaser, and the other for methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone, also known as NMP, in paint and coating removal.

The comment period for both rules has been pushed back to May 19 in response to stakeholder requests, according to a press release.

Both rules would prohibit manufacture (including import), processing and commercial distribution of the respective chemicals. The rules also would require manufacturers, processors and distributors to inform 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.

In a letter sent April 17, the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy urged the agency to withdraw the proposed rule.

“Small businesses … have raised concerns with EPA’s basis (i.e., risk assessment) for its regulatory proposal for the use of trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasing,” SBA wrote. “Small businesses are also concerned that the EPA’s risk analysis does not support the ban of TCE use in all vapor degreasing machines. In addition, small businesses have expressed concerns with the agency’s consideration of the feasibility of alternatives and substitute solvents for TCE. Finally, small businesses have also raised concerns with the short transition period provided by the agency to ban the use of TCE in vapor degreasers.”

In 2014, EPA found that methylene chloride may cause adverse health effects, including cancer, harm to the central nervous system and toxicity to the liver. In 2015, the agency found 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.

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