US to limit or ban some dye, retardant, detergent chemicals

18 August 2010 19:40  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US environmental regulators on Wednesday announced plans to ban or restrict production of chemicals used in dyes, flame retardants, detergents and food packaging on grounds that they have been detected in humans or may cause cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also said that it plans to impose significant new use restrictions on other chemical components of dyes that additionally are used in textiles production and in paints, inks, paper and consumer drugs.

“These action plans lay out concrete steps EPA intends to take to address the risks associated with chemicals commonly used in this country,” said Steve Owens, head of the agency’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention (OCSPP).

The agency said it was taking action to restrict the use of and potentially to ban production of benzidine dyes and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

HBCD, along with nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), would be added to the new EPA list of “Chemicals of Concern”, which would subject the chemicals to closer and priority federal scrutiny.

For benzidine dyes and HBCD, the agency said it will impose new reporting requirements under its Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) programme for those who produce or use the chemicals. 

In addition, the EPA said that production and use of both eventually may be limited or banned outright.

The EPA said that benzidine dyes are used in the production of consumer textiles, paints, printing inks, paper and pharmaceuticals “and may pose health problems, including cancer”.

According to the agency, HBCD is a common flame retardant in expanded polystyrene (EPS) foams used in commercial and residential construction and in some consumer products.

“HBCD has been shown to be persistent and bio accumulative in the environment and may pose potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effect in people,” the agency said.

The EPA said that NP and NPEs are used in a variety of industrial applications and in consumer products such as detergents, cleaners, agricultural and indoor pesticides and in food packaging.

“These chemicals have been detected in people,” the agency said. But the announcement did not say whether NP and NPEs had been shown to pose a health risk.

The agency said that the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) - said to represent almost all US industrial laundry facilities - has agreed to phase out use of NPEs in industrial liquid detergents by the end of 2013 and in powder detergents by the end of 2014.

The EPA said it was taking action against the three chemical groups under previously unused authority granted to it by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and as part of a policy announced in September 2009 to move quickly to evaluate and restrict chemicals that pose a concern to public health.

TSCA is under scrutiny by the US Congress and is expected to be replaced by a broader and more comprehensive chemicals control statute by the end of next year.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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