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EPA Finalizes Action Protecting Americans from PBT Chemicals

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WASHINGTON (December 22, 2020) — As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursues its mission to protect human health and the environment, today the agency released final rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that will reduce exposure to five chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). PBT chemicals are of particular concern not only because they are toxic but also because they remain in the environment for long periods of time and can build up or accumulate in the body. Addressing these chemicals is a critical step in the agency’s efforts to protect the health of Americans – including children, workers, and subsistence fishers. 

“With today’s final rules, EPA has met a significant TSCA milestone to address risks from these chemicals, further demonstrating the Trump Administration’s commitment to enhancing chemical safety in this country,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “By working with a wide variety of stakeholders, we were able to put in place restrictions on five PBT chemicals that will protect our families and our environment.”

TSCA required EPA to take expedited action on specific PBT chemicals to address risk and reduce exposures to the extent practicable. EPA identified these five PBT chemicals for expedited action, following criteria outlined in TSCA. The final rules released today limit or prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and/or distribution in commerce for the following:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE): A flame retardant in plastic enclosures for televisions, computers, audio and video equipment, textiles and upholstered articles, wire and cables for communication and electronic equipment, and other applications.
  • Phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)): A plasticizer, a flame retardant, an anti-wear additive, or an anti-compressibility additive in hydraulic fluid, lubricating oils, lubricants and greases, various industrial coatings, adhesives, sealants, and plastic articles.
  • 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl) phenol (2,4,6-TTBP): An intermediate/reactant in processing, and is incorporated into formulations destined for fuel and fuel-related additives;
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD): A chemical used as a halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbon that is produced as a byproduct during the manufacture of chlorinated hydrocarbons.
  • Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP): A chemical used to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses.

EPA used public comments received on the proposed rules issued in June 2019 to inform these final rules. Additionally, the agency conducted extensive outreach with the public and other stakeholders in developing the final rules, including holding a webinar on chemical use information and carrying out a consultation with tribes.

In a related action, last week EPA announced the receipt of a manufacturer-requested risk evaluation (MRRE) for two other PBT chemicals within the octahydro-tetramethyl-naphthalenyl-ethanone (OTNE) chemical category. EPA will soon open a public comment period on the MRRE request and, if granted, these chemicals would be subject to the full TSCA risk evaluation process.

A summary of the final rules and the risk management actions for each chemical can be found at: