Green Chemistry

'SNUR' Articles

EPA promulgates 52 SNURs.

Monday, October 27th, 2014

In today’s Federal Register, the EPA published Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) applying to 52 chemical substances, ranging from “functionalized carbon nanotubes” to amine adducts. The affected chemicals were all subject to Premanufacture Notices (PMNs), and nine are also subject to consent orders under TSCA § 5(e). Today’s SNURs extend the provisions of the § 5(e) consent orders and require manufacturers and processors of the chemicals to notify EPA prior to engaging in any activity designated in the rules as a significant new use. The SNURs were issued by Direct Final Rule, meaning that the SNURs will go into effect in 60 days unless EPA receives written adverse or critical comments, or notice of intent to submit such comments, by November 26.

EPA updates TSCA Work Plan, 23 chemicals added to list for further review.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Today, EPA released its first update [PDF] to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan for Chemical Assessments. Drawing on new data collected through Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) and the Toxic Release Inventory program, EPA adjusted the exposure rankings for the chemicals initially screened for the Work Plan and added 23 chemicals to the Work Plan list for further assessment. The agency also removed 15 chemicals which are mostly no longer in commerce; of the 15, mercury (and mercury compounds) and quartz were removed because risks associated with those substances are already sufficiently managed. In addition, benzo[a]pyrene was designated to be evaluated as part of the assessment of creosote. Today’s changes had no effect on 67 chemicals and bring the Work Plan total to 90 chemicals.

Included in the 23 new Work Plan chemicals, EPA added the following five Action Plan chemicals or chemical groups to the Work Plan for further assessment:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE)
  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
  • Nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP/NPE)
  • Group of phthalates (dibutyl phthalate (DBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), and di-isobutyl phthalate (DIBP)

These Action Plan chemicals were all identified as highly-ranked for hazard and exposure; decaBDE and HBCD also had high rankings for persistence/bioaccumulation. The other five Action Plan chemicals not added to the Work Plan were not selected for reasons including lower toxicity and potential exposure or because they are no longer produced or imported into the United States. Of these non-Work Plan chemicals, the agency plans to propose Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for benzidene dyes and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). In the case of long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), EPA noted that while it has already begun risk management actions, including a voluntary stewardship program, it intends to gather “additional data regarding use of PFCs in imported articles before determining if these chemicals should be candidates for the assessment process.”

In addition to the Action Plan chemicals, EPA added ten chemicals which were previously screened for the Work Plan in 2012. These ten chemicals now have increased exposure scores, according to recent CDR and TRI data, due to “being domestically produced or imported in greater quantities and …used in a larger variety of consumer and children’s products.” Two flame retardants, triphenyl phosphate (TPP) and isopropylated phenol, phosphate (iPTPP), were also added.

EPA proposes new SNUR on nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Yesterday, EPA released a pre-publication version of its proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) targeting nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). NPEs are a type of nonionic surfactant used in a wide variety of industrial processes and applications, including detergents, dry cleaning, cosmetics, adhesives, and paints and coatings; NPs are primarily used as an intermediate in producing NPEs. Under the SNUR, any person intending to manufacture, import, or process NPs or NPEs for the identified significant new uses must notify EPA before beginning any such activity, so that the agency may have the opportunity to evaluate each intended use and impose any appropriate controls.

The proposed SNUR [PDF] applies to 15 chemical substances; for 13 of these, any use is considered a significant new use, while “any use other than use as an intermediate or use as an epoxy cure catalyst” constitutes a significant new use for 4-nonylphenol, branched and 2-nonylphenol, branched. In discussing the environmental effects of NPs and NPEs, EPA cited the chemicals’ persistence, high toxicity to aquatic life and wide usage that can lead to “widespread releases to the aquatic environment.”

NPs and NPEs were also the subject of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2009, following EPA’s settlement of a citizens petition to initiate rulemaking brought by several environmental groups and other NGOs. The release of the proposed SNUR is in line with EPA’s 2010 Action Plan for these chemicals. Other Action Plan efforts to regulate NPs and NPEs and reduce their risks include completing an alternatives assessment under the Design for Environment (DfE) program in 2012 and collaborating with the Textile Rental Services Association of America to phase out NPEs in industrial laundry detergents.

Comments will be accepted on the proposed SNUR for 60 days following the rule’s Federal Register publication, which is anticipated to occur the week of September 29.

EPA both finalizes and withdraws Significant New Use Rules.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

EPA finalized Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for 36 substances on September 2, including several nanoengineered carbon compounds. The SNURs were first proposed in February 2013, and include several substances subject to § 5(e) consent orders. EPA is not finalizing the proposed SNUR for one substance, premanufacture notice (PMN) number P-11-155, in response to a comment from the PMN submitter urging the SNUR’s withdrawal while the agency’s recommended environmental toxicity testing is ongoing. Other changes in the final SNURs are mostly minor and involve ensuring consistency with existing consent orders and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. In response to comments on the hierarchy of engineering and administrative controls and collaboration with OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), EPA noted that it is “currently in the process of developing revisions to existing SNUR regulations that will serve as a template for future SNURs and SNURs already issued” and will consult with OSHA and NIOSH.

In July, we reported that EPA released two sets of SNURs by direct final rule. Earlier this month, EPA withdrew six of those SNURs after receiving notices of intent to submit adverse comment. The agency withdrew rules for the substances identified generically and by PMN number as follows:

  • 1,1′- methylenebis[isocyanatobenzene], polymer with polycarboxylic acids in alkane polyols;
  • aromatic dibenzoate (P-14-60);
  • propylene glycol, alpha isocyanate, omega silane (P-13-270);
  • aromatic dicarboxylic acid polymer with alkanediol, alkyl alkyl-2-alkenoate,1,4- dialkyl aromatic dicarboxylate, alkanedioic acid, alkanediol, .alpha.- hydro-.omega.-hydroxypoly[oxy(alkyl- alkanediyl)], hydroxyalkyl 2-alkyl-2- alkenoate, aromatic diisocyanate, alkyl 2-alkyl-2-alkenoate and 2-alkyl-2- alkenoic acid (P-13-563);
  • alkanedioic acid, polymer with alkyl 2- alkyl-2-alkenoate, alkanedioic acid, alkanediol, .alpha.-hydro-.omega.- hydroxypoly[oxy(alkyl-1 2-alkanediyl)], hydroxyalkyl 2-alkyl-2-alkenoate, aromatic diisocyanate, alkyl 2-alkyl-2- alkenoate and 2-alkyl-2-alkenoic acid (P-13-617); and
  • alkanedioic acid, polymer with alkyl alkyl- alkenoate, alkanedioic acid, alkanediol, .alpha.-hydro-.omega.- hydroxypoly[oxy(alkyl-1,2-alkanediyl)], aromatic diisocyanate, alkyl alkyl- alkeneoate and alkyl-alkenoic acid (P-13-619).

According to its Federal Register notice, EPA intends to publish proposed SNURs for these substances under separate notice-and-comment procedures in the near future.

EPA issues two sets of SNURs by direct final rule.

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Today, EPA released a pre-publication version of Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for 43 chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). All 43 substances have been subject to Premanufacture Notices (PMNs) and six of them are subject to section 5(e) consent orders, where EPA determined that activities associated with the substances may present unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. The SNURs are being promulgated by direct final rule and will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, July 9.

The new SNURs cover a wide range of chemicals, including perfluorinated chemicals and lithium salts, in a variety of industrial uses, from herbicide intermediates to surfactants for laboratory use fluid.The SNURs impose various recordkeeping, notification, protective and other requirements on persons engaging in a “significant new use,” i.e., any use outside the use scenarios identified in the applicable PMNs or without specified protective measures, in the case of the 5(e) SNURs.

These 43 SNURs come a day after another set of 13 SNURs which were published in today’s Federal Register, all of which were subject to PMNs and three of which were subject to section 5(e) consent orders. Two of the substances covered in this set of SNURs are identified as carbon nanotubes.

The SNURs applying to the substances subject to section 5(e) consent orders are “based on and consistent with the provisions in the underlying consent orders.” The other substances subject to the new SNURs met the criteria of concern established at 40 CFR § 721.170.

Both sets of SNURs will go into effect 60 days following publication in the Federal Register (September 8 and 9) unless EPA receives written adverse or critical comments, or notice of intent to submit such comments, within 30 days of publication (August 7 and 8).

EPA will withdraw proposed rules for fourth set of High Production Volume chemicals.

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The EPA will withdraw a 2011 proposed rule requiring testing and other data for 23 High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals and imposing Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) on 22 other HPV chemicals. Last week, Bloomberg BNA reported that the agency had confirmed in an email that the rule will be formally withdrawn, although a timeline has not been established yet. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), HPV chemicals are those produced or imported into the U.S. at the rate of at least 1 million pounds per year. However, significant data gaps exist regarding the hazards associated with these substances.

The rules were part of the EPA’s HPV Challenge Program, which encouraged the voluntary submission of health and hazard data for approximately 1,400 HPV chemicals sponsored by companies. EPA previously issued three other test rules for “unsponsored chemicals.”

EPA justified the withdrawal of the fourth set of rules by alluding to higher priorities, such as the agency’s TSCA Work Plan, an initiative launched in 2012 that identified 83 substances on which to conduct risk assessments. When the regulatory package was proposed, industry groups commented that the proposal was duplicative in requesting data already developed for and collected by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which implements REACH.

Data from over 860 chemicals was made publicly available to the HPV Challenge Program through international efforts. However, of the over 2,200 chemicals sponsored through the voluntary part of the HPV Challenge Program, data was received for only 82 percent of the substances – and not all of that data is complete.

Until the regulatory package is withdrawn, the substances subject to the SNURs remain subject to 12(b) export notification requirements.

EPA issues 35 SNURs.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Yesterday, U.S. EPA issued Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for 35 substances which were subject to Premanufacture Notices (PMNs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The SNURs were promulgated as a Direct Final Rule, and take effect starting April 14, 2014.

Fourteen of the substances, including various polyfluorinated alkyl compounds and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, are subject to “risk-based” TSCA § 5(e) consent orders which require use of protective measures to limit exposure or otherwise mitigate risk; the SNURs for these substances designate as a significant new use the absence of these protective measures. The SNURs for the other 21 substances designate various significant new uses, including releases to water as well as certain industrial, commercial and consumer activities, and establish certain protection in the workplace requirements, such as the use of respirators.

Written adverse or critical comments, or notice of intent to submit such comments, must be received by E.P.A. by March 14, 2014.

EPA issues SNUR restricting imports of allegedly harmful category of chemicals used in carpets.

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Monday that it will soon finalize a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) that will allow the agency to restrict imports of potentially harmful long-chain perfluoralkyl carboxylates (LCPFACs) that could be used in carpets. The regulation will require companies to submit a notification 90 days in advance of manufacturing, importing, or processing LCPFACs that will be used as part of carpets or carpet treatment products. LCPFACs, a sub-category of perfluorinated chemical (PFC), include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as “C8”), other higher homologues, and their salts and precursors.

The final rule [PDF], which is authorized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was originally proposed in August 2012, following the U.S. chemical industry’s voluntary phase-out of these chemicals. In 2006, the eight major U.S. manufacturers of fluoropolymers and telomers committed to the EPA’s voluntary 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program. The companies committed to achieving a 95% reduction in emissions and product content levels of PFOA and related substances by 2010, and elimination of such chemicals by 2015.

While the new final rule makes TSCA’s articles exemption inapplicable to imports of LCPFACs in carpets, other articles containing LCPFACs are not affected. EPA has previously issued three other SNURS addressing perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFAS), another sub-category of PFC. The new rule will add new chemicals to the existing PFAS SNUR and amend the SNUR to include ”processing” in the definition of “significant new use” for PFAS chemicals. EPA anticipates proposing another SNUR on additional PFCs in early 2014 as well as SNURs on other chemicals that will include imported products.

As part of its long term action plan regarding long-chain PFCs, EPA will also evaluate the effects of such chemicals on children and other sub-populations Although long-chain PFCs have not been found to cause significant adverse effects in the general human population, they have caused reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxic effects on laboratory animals, bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife, and are persistent in the environment. Therefore, EPA anticipates that continued exposure could result in adverse outcomes.

Further information on the new 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.

EPA Proposes Significant New Use Rules for 37 Chemicals and Nanomaterials

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

TSCA/SNUR/Nanotechnology:

Background

Continuing its robust exercise of its expansive TSCA authority, EPA last week released proposed Significant New Use Rules (“SNURs”) under TSCA for 37 chemicals, including 14 nanoengineered carbon compounds. The SNURs cover a wide range of uses, including the manufacture, processing, and import of adhesives, coatings, colorants, lubricants, chemical intermediates, etc., and result from premanufacture notice (“PMN”) submissions from as long ago as 2000. For almost half of the affected chemicals, the SNURs essentially codify protective measures already required under existing consent orders; the rest are largely based on PMN use scenarios.

EPA has already determined that 17 of the substances addressed by the proposed rule “may present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or environment” and thus are subject to risk-based consent orders under TSCA § 5(e). The proposed SNURs for these substances adopt certain safety precautions already required by the consent orders. For example, for certain chemicals, workers would be required to wear specified respirators unless air monitoring shows that the substance is actually present in concentrations lower than the New Chemical Exposure Limit (“NCEL”). The NCEL provisions, already incorporated in the § 5(e) consent orders, were established by EPA “to provide adequate protection to human health” and modeled after Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). Users who wish to pursue the NCEL alternative to the respirator requirement would have to request permission to do so under 40 CFR § 721.30 (“EPA approval of alternative control measures.”) EPA anticipates approving such requests under the same conditions already present in the consent orders.

The other 20 substances covered by the new SNURs are not subject to § 5(e) consent orders. These “non-5(e) SNURs” cover certain changes from the use scenarios described in the PMNs which could result in increased exposure, per 40 CFR § 721.170(c)(2).

In addition to personal protective equipment, the SNURs impose various standard use restrictions on the chemicals, such as prohibiting manufacture in the U.S., limiting use to conditions specified in existing consent orders, and banning release to water. EPA also recommends various types of toxicity testing to better characterize the new chemicals’ environmental effects.

Regulatory actions flowing from SNURs

Upon promulgation of the SNURs, any users of the affected substances will be required to determine whether they must submit a Significant New Use Notification (“SNUN”) to EPA 90 days prior to engaging in one of the designated “new uses.” On receipt of the SNUN, EPA may take further regulatory action under TSCA § 5(e), 5(f), 6 or 7, or otherwise publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining its reasons for not taking action.

In addition, EPA’s proposal of the SNURs triggers export notification requirements under TSCA § 12(b). Any exporter or intended exporter of the affected chemicals must notify EPA of the first export or intended export to a particular country, unless the substance is present at certain low concentrations that qualify for the de minimus exemption. If and when the SNURs are finalized, importers of the affected substances must also certify their compliance the SNURs.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed SNURs through April 26, 2013.

Naming nanoscale materials and other CBI concerns

In the proposed SNURs, EPA identifies nanoengineered carbon compounds based on generic structural terms in order to protect the confidential chemical identities of the substances. EPA uses terms like, for example, “single-walled carbon nanotube” (or “SWCNT”), along with PMN numbers to identify the substances for inclusion in the TSCA Inventory.

The nomenclature developed by EPA is further described in a document, “Material Characterization of Carbon Nanotubes for Molecular Identity (MI) Determination & Nomenclature,” which should be available soon under the docket number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2012–0727. It is likely to be similar to or the same as the identically-named document published with the SNUR finalized in 2011 for a substance named as “multi-walled carbon nanotubes.”

If an intended user is uncertain whether its chemicals are subject to the new SNURs, EPA advises contacting the agency or obtaining a written determination under the bona fide procedures in 40 CFR § 721.11. Since production volume limits and certain other uses detailed in the proposed SNURs may also be claimed as CBI, users may not know whether their intended production volumes constitute a significant new use. The bona fide procedures also apply to such cases. If, after evaluating detailed submissions on the intended use, EPA finds that the user has a bona fide intent to manufacture, produce, or import the substance, the agency will advise whether the intended use would qualify as a significant new use.

EPA Proposes TSCA SNUR for Certain Perfluorinated Chemicals

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

TSCA:

On August 8, 2012, EPA signed a proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to:

  • Require companies to report 90 days in advance of all new uses of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic (LCPFAC) chemicals as part of carpets or to treat carpets, including the import of new carpet containing LCPFACs;
  • Add seven perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) chemicals to the existing PFAS SNUR (40 CFR 721.9582), and amend that SNUR to include “processing” in the definition of significant new use for PFAS chemicals.

The following is a link to the pre-publication copy of the proposed SNUR:

http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/PrePublication_LCPFC-SNUR_NPRM_2012-08-07.pdf

Comments on the proposed SNUR are due 60 days after the SNUR is published in the Federal Register. For more information, see EPA’s website