U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing a rule to restrict imports of perfluorinated chemicals that could be used in carpets. The regulation will require companies to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic and imported products, of these chemicals once used for soil and stain resistance in carpets. These chemicals have been shown to persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in humans and animals and represent a potential threat to American’s health. This action follows the U.S. chemical industry’s voluntary phase out of these chemicals and a range of actions by EPA to address concerns with these chemicals.
The final rule issued is a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act, requires that anyone who intends to manufacture (including import) or process any long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic (LCPFAC) chemicals for use in carpets or carpet products submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity, providing the agency with an opportunity to review and, if necessary, place limits on manufacturers or processors who intend to reintroduce or import products with these chemicals.
As background, in 2006 the eight major U.S. companies producing LCPFAC chemicals committed to the EPA’s voluntary PFOA Stewardship Program, pledging to reduce global emissions and product content of LCPFAC chemicals by the end of 2015. As part of this phaseout program, the industry stopped using LCPFAC chemicals on carpets and aftercare treatment products. EPA has also issued other Significant New Use Rules to require EPA review and prior to the reintroduction of other perfluorinated chemicals included in the voluntary industry phaseout. EPA anticipates another Significant New Rule on additional perfluorinated chemicals in early 2014 as well as Significant New Use Rules on other chemicals that will include imported products.