Washington, DC – Five chemicals are being fast-tracked through the recently updated Toxic Substances Control Act by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
These include the flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ester (DecaBDE). Although DecaBDE was not used directly as a flame retardant in polyurethane foam in the US, applications include the backing of textiles used as furniture coverings.
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was passed in June. Among its aims is to reduce exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals, and EPA says it is looking to do this as quickly as possible. The five fast-tracked chemicals are of particular concern because they will remain in the environment for extended periods of time, and concentrate in the organisms that are exposed to them.
“The threats from persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals are well documented,” explained Jim Jones, assistant administrator in the EPA’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. “The new law directs us to expedite action to reduce risks for these chemicals, rather than spending more time evaluating them.”
Also being expedited are hexachlorobutadiene and pentachlorothiophenol, both of which have applications in rubber manufacturing; another flame retardant, tris(4-isopropylphenyl)phosphate; and the additive 2,4,6-tris(t-butyl)phenol.
EPA’s statutory deadline to propose action is June 2019, three years after the new Act was signed into law. Its expedited action is designed to reduce exposure to these chemicals to the extent that is practical. The first step is to identify where they are used and how people are exposed to them. EPA will then propose limitations on their use.