On Monday, before the government shutdown, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule restricting imports of perfluorinated chemicals that could be used in carpets. The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is not publishing during the shutdown.
The chemicals are used in treating carpets for soil and stain resistance, but persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in humans and animals, posing a health hazard. The new regulation requires companies to report all new uses of these chemicals, including their presence in domestic and imported products.
“While this category of chemicals has largely been voluntarily phased out by the U.S. chemical industry and are not in use in this country, they could still be imported in carpets. This action will ensure that EPA has the opportunity to take action to restrict or limit the intended use, if warranted, for any new domestic uses or imports,” Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said on Monday. “This action will also provide a level playing field for those companies who 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 in imported carpet products.”
The final rule issued today, known as a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act, requires any who plan to manufacture, import or process any long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic (LCPFAC) chemicals for use in carpets or carpet products to submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. This provides the EPA an opportunity to review and, if warranted, place limits on manufacturers or processors who intend to reintroduce or import products with these chemicals.
The rule is an outgrowth of a 2006 pledge to reduce global emissions of these chemicals by the end of 2015. Another ruling of perfluorinated chemical use is expected in early 2014, according to the EPA.
Today’s action is one of several EPA has taken to protect the public from perfluorinated chemicals. In 2006, the eight major U.S. companies producing LCPFAC chemicals committed to the EPA’s voluntary PFOA Stewardship Program, pledging to reduce 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 aftercare treatment products. EPA has also issued other Significant New Use Rules to require EPA review and prior to the reintroduction of other perfluorinated chemicals included in the voluntary industry phaseout. EPA anticipates another Significant New Rule on additional perfluorinated chemicals in early 2014 as well as Significant New Use Rules on other chemicals that will include imported products.
Information on today’s final rule and other actions EPA has taken on perfluorinated chemicals can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/pfcs.html#final