January 21, 2021

EPA Finalizes Rules on Exposures to Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals

EPA has released a set of final rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act that will reduce exposures to five chemicals considered to be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT). The final rules limit or prohibit the manufacture, processing, and commercial distribution for decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE); phenol, isoproylated phosphate (PIP 3:1); 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl) phenol (2,4,6-TTBP); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD); and pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP). These and other PBT chemicals are of particular concern because of their ability to remain in the environment for long periods of time and to accumulate in the human body, in addition to their toxicity.

DecaBDE is a flame retardant used in televisions, computers, audio and visual equipment, textiles and upholstery, and wire and cable coverings. PIP 3:1 is a plasticizer, flame retardant, and anti-wear and anti-compressibility additive used in various industrial lubricants, fluids, oils, coatings, greases, and sealants. 2,4,6-TTBP is a reactant used in producing fuel-related additives. HCBD is a byproduct made during chlorinated hydrocarbons manufacture. PCTP is used to make rubber more pliable.

DecaBDE, PIP (3:1), 2,4,6-TTBP, and HCBD have all been identified as particularly harmful to aquatic plants, invertebrates, and fish. HCBD has additional effects on birds while PCTP is toxic to protozoa, fish, terrestrial plants, and birds. These chemicals also have been found to produce a variety of harmful effects on the human body, including the potential to cause cancer and to damage the neurological and reproductive systems.

The EPA website provides a table of the exact health effects associated with each chemical and actions the agency will take to manage risks. The final rules for each of the five chemicals are accessible through the same webpage. Additional information can also be found in EPA’s press release.