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Chemical Regulation

Violet dye presents health risks to workers

US EPA to address inhalation exposure from pigment in automobile paints, but not plastics

by Britt E. Erickson
January 15, 2021

Pigment violet 29 (PV29), a dye used in paints, coatings, plastics, and rubber, presents unreasonable risks to workers in several situations, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced Jan. 14 in a final assessment. The agency identified some risks that were not included in a revised draft assessment released in October, but it also found some uses of PV29 are less of a risk than previously thought.

Chemical structure of pigment violet 29.

PV29 is one of the first 10 high-priority chemicals the EPA evaluated under 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Although PV29 was the first of the 10 assessments the EPA released in draft form, it turned out to be more controversial than the EPA expected and was the last of the 10 to be finalized.

The EPA released the first draft assessment of PV29 in November 2018, finding no unreasonable risks to workers, consumers, the general public, and the environment. But after receiving criticism from environmental groups and its external group of advisors, the agency modified the assessment. In the revised draft, the EPA identified several unreasonable risks to workers, including those in the automotive sector who handle paints and plastics.

Chemical manufacturers pushed back, claiming that it would be impossible to inhale PV29 when the chemical is incorporated in a plastic matrix. The EPA agreed. In its final assessment, the agency did not identify unreasonable risks to workers from PV29 encapsulated in plastic and rubber products used in automobiles and industrial carpeting. The chemical is not expected to leach out of such products, the EPA says.

The agency did find unreasonable risks to workers from inhalation of PV29 in automobile paints and commercial printing inks, as well as from the use of PV29 as an intermediate in manufacturing other pigments. It plans to propose restrictions to address the risks within 1 year.

The EPA also did not identify any unreasonable risks to consumers from the use of PV29 in watercolor and acrylic paints.



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