June 13, 2024

EPA Proposes Workplace Controls, Partial Ban for Solvent NMP

A rule proposed by EPA on June 5 would establish workplace controls for many uses of the solvent n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) and ban other uses for which alternatives exist or that the agency says “cannot safely continue.” NMP, a common alternative to methylene chloride, is used in the manufacture of petrochemicals, electronics, polymers, and agricultural chemicals. It’s also used for producing and removing paints, coatings, and adhesives. According to EPA, exposure to NMP can damage the liver, kidneys, immune system, and nervous system as well as lead to miscarriages and reduced fertility.

EPA’s proposal seeks to require a workplace chemical protection program for many of NMP’s occupational conditions of use, including its manufacture, the processing of NMP in plastic material and resin manufacturing, and its use as a laboratory chemical. Other instances that would fall under the proposed program include NMP’s uses in specialized electronics and petrochemical manufacturing. The proposed rule also includes requirements to prevent direct dermal contact with NMP that would take effect one year from when the rule is finalized. Proposed concentration limits and personal protective equipment requirements would affect the chemical’s occupational uses in paints, adhesives, inks, coatings, and soldering materials.

Uses EPA is proposing to ban for safety reasons include the commercial use of NMP in products for automotive care, cleaning and degreasing, and furniture care as well as in fertilizers and other agricultural chemical manufacturing processes. The agency’s proposal would also ban NMP in antifreeze, deicing products, and lubricants, though EPA believes that the chemical is not currently being used in these products.

A pre-publication version of EPA’s proposed rule is available as a PDF. Once the rule is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days to submit comments about the proposal. EPA says it especially values feedback about the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed requirements to protect workers. The agency encourages workers and entities that would be required to implement the proposed protections to comment on this matter.

EPA personnel will provide an overview of its proposed regulatory action on NMP during a webinar to be held on June 20. While the deadline to register to attend and provide remarks at the webinar has passed, interested individuals can register to listen until noon ET on June 19.

Further information, including details about opportunities for public and stakeholder engagement, can be found on EPA’s webpage on risk management for NMP.

Related: An educational session at AIHA Connect 2024 focused on chemical monitoring, risk management, and interpreting, anticipating, and preparing for significant new EPA regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Read coverage of the session from The Synergist on AIHA’s website.