Federal agencies Chemical Manufacturing

EPA requests input on draft risk evaluation for N-methylpyrrolidone

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Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a draft risk evaluation that states the chemical substance N-methylpyrrolidone, also known as NMP, presents an unreasonable risk to workers under certain conditions, according to a notice published in the Nov. 7 Federal Register.

Frequently used in consumer products, NMP is among the first 10 chemicals slated for evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. In 2015, EPA determined that NMP presents particular risks to pregnant women and women of childbearing age who had high exposure to the chemical through paint and coating removal.

The draft states that NMP poses “unreasonable risk” to workers involved in operations including:

  • Paint and coating removal
  • Machine manufacturing
  • Adhesive removal
  • Cleaning and degreasing in electronic equipment
  • Use of automotive care products

As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, the draft risk evaluation is scheduled to undergo an in-person peer review Dec. 5-6 during a meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals. EPA is slated to host a preparatory virtual meeting Nov. 12 “to consider the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for the peer review,” the notice states.

Requests to speak during the SACC peer review are due Dec. 3. Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due Jan. 6, but stakeholders who want SACC members to read their comments must submit them by Nov. 26.

In a proposed rule published in January 2017, EPA sought input on whether to restrict use of NMP, but the agency did not take final action as part of a final rule – published in March – prohibiting manufacture (including import), processing and distribution of methylene chloride in paint removers for consumer use and requiring manufacturers, processors and distributors to notify retailers and others in the supply chain about the ban.

The draft risk evaluation for NMP marks the sixth released by EPA. After the agency solicited comments on problem formation documents for the first 10 chemicals, it submitted its first draft risk evaluation – for Pigment Violet 29 – in November 2018. Subsequent draft risk evaluations followed on July 1 (for Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster and 1,4-dioxane), Aug. 12 (for 1-Bromopropane) and Oct. 29 (for methylene chloride).

A November 2018 press release from EPA outlined the agency’s intent to release draft risk evaluations for the remaining chemicals “in the coming months” and issue final risk evaluations for the first 10 chemicals by December.


Speaking to Bloomberg Environment in an Oct. 11 report, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said the agency had planned to issue four draft risk evaluations by the end of the year and two in January, completing the list of 10.

EPA’s recent release of draft risk evaluations for methylene chloride and NMP leaves four chemicals on deck for assessment: asbestos, carbon tetrachloride, tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or TCE) and tricholoroethylene.

EPA intends to complete its 10 chemical risk evaluations by June, Dunn said in the report.

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