September 9, 2021

EPA Plans New Rules on Five PBT Chemicals

Following a review of current rules for managing the risks of five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals that went into effect earlier this year, EPA announced on September 3 that it anticipates proposing new rules for these chemicals. The five chemicals are decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE); phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)); 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2,4,6-TTBP); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD); and pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP). Except for certain compliance provisions related to PIP (3:1), the current rules will remain in effect until new rules are finalized.

EPA is extending compliance dates related to the current rule for PIP (3:1) one year to March 8, 2022, due to unforeseen complications the rule is causing for stakeholder supply chains, the agency stated in a press release. The rule prohibits the processing and distribution of PIP (3:1) for use in articles. According to EPA, after the rule went into effect stakeholders reported that finding alternatives to PIP (3:1) is challenging due to the complexity of international supply chains. The stakeholders did not raise these concerns during the comment period for the rule, EPA says. The agency press release explains that the extension is intended to ensure that supply chains continue uninterrupted.

In addition, EPA will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks comment on a possible further extension of the compliance dates beyond March 8, 2022.

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. DecaBDE is a flame retardant used in televisions, computers, audio and visual equipment, textiles and upholstery, and wire and cable coverings. 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.

These chemicals have the potential to cause cancer and damage the neurological and reproductive systems. More information, including background documents and a table of the health effects associated with each chemical, is available on the EPA website. Like other PBT chemicals, they can remain in the environment for long periods of time and accumulate in the human body.

EPA expects to propose new rules for these chemicals in 2023.