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Chemical Regulation

US EPA fast-tracks decision on 5 chemicals

by Britt E. Erickson
June 28, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 26


The US Environmental Protection Agency is planning to regulate four of the five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) substances it identified in 2016. The Toxic Substances Control Act requires the EPA to take expedited action to reduce exposure to PBT chemicals. The four targeted compounds are the flame retardants decabromodiphenyl ether and tris(4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate; pentachlorothio-phenol, which softens rubber; and 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol, an additive in fuels or lubricants. The EPA is proposing to limit or ban many uses of these PBT chemicals. But the agency claims that it could not identify any practicable ways to reduce exposure to the fifth, hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), which is used as a solvent and to make rubber and lubricants. For 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol, the “EPA suggests restricting container size as a method for limiting chemical usage,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says. Pallone calls the EPA’s proposal for HCBD and 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol “profoundly inadequate.” The agency must finalize a rule addressing the five PBT substances within 18 months.


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