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Chemical Regulation

Violet colorant poses risks to workers

Revised EPA assessment finds risks from chronic inhalation of pigment violet 29

by Britt E. Erickson
October 30, 2020

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A violet dye used in industrial carpeting, automobile plastics, inks, and other products poses unreasonable risks to workers under several use scenarios, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced Oct. 29 in a revised draft assessment. The assessment is in marked contrast to the agency’s initial version, released in Nov. 2018, which concluded that the dye poses no unreasonable risks to human health or the environment.

The dye, pigment violet 29 (PV29), is one of the first 10 chemicals that the EPA is evaluating under the 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The agency aims to complete all 10 assessments by the end of this year.

After receiving criticism from a scientific advisory committee and environmental groups about data gaps in its initial PV29 draft assessment, the EPA ordered chemical manufacturers to provide some of the missing information. The agency sent the order in February to Sun Chemical, the only known manufacturer of PV29 in the US, and BASF, which imports small amounts of the chemical. The EPA sought data to help characterize inhalation exposure and solubility.

The additional information, which includes particle size, solubility, and workplace dust monitoring data provided by Sun Chemical, significantly changed the outcome of the EPA’s risk estimates. Under several conditions of use, inhalation of small particles of PV29 poses unreasonable risks of lung impairment in workers who are chronically exposed, the EPA concludes in the revised assessment. Consumers using watercolor and acrylic paints containing PV29 incur no unreasonable health risks, the agency says.

The EPA is accepting public comments on the revised draft PV29 assessment for 30 days. It will also identify experts to peer review the evaluation.

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