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EPA Plans To Restrict Perfluoro Chemicals

by Britt E. Erickson
January 26, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 4

EPA is proposing new regulations to ensure that certain perfluorinated chemicals do not reenter the U.S. marketplace without undergoing review by the agency. The action comes as many chemical manufacturers move to phase out the substances by the end of this year. Perfluorinated substances are used in numerous products, including cleaners, textiles, leather, carpet, wire insulation, and firefighting foams. They are toxic, persistent in the environment, and bioaccumulative in people and wildlife. EPA struck an agreement with manufacturers in 2006 to phase out long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals by the end of this year. Companies are on track to meet this goal and have developed more than 150 alternatives to these compounds, according to EPA. The proposed rule would require companies intending to import or produce the affected perfluoroalkyl chemicals for any new use to notify EPA in advance. The agency would evaluate the new use and possibly restrict or prohibit it. The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, says it hopes the rule will eliminate the manufacture and use of long-chain fluorochemicals by all companies, not just those participating in the voluntary phaseout effort.


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