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US EPA Tightens Textile Chemical Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken action to prevent some harmful chemicals found in textiles from entering the American market.

Nine benzidine-based dyes, which can be used in textiles, paints and inks and can be coverted in the body into a chemical known to cause cancer, and DnPP, a phthalate used in PVC plastics that is shown to cause developmental and/or reproductive effects in lab animals, have been added to a Significant New Use Rules (SNUR) list, a regulatory instrument issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The action closes a loophole to ensure that these chemicals and products containing them, like clothing, can’t be imported without EPA review, and the organization can place restrictions on the chemicals as warranted.

As part of the SNUR, anyone wishing to manufacture, import or process these chemicals for a significant “new use” must flag the EPA 90 days in advance of use so the agency can evaluate the intended use and take action as necessary.

“We are committed to protecting all Americans from exposure to harmful chemicals used in domestic and imported products,” Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention said. “There must be a level playing field for U.S. businesses – which is why we’re targeting harmful chemicals no longer used in the U.S. that find their way into commerce, sometimes through imported products. This final action will give EPA the opportunity to restrict or limit any new uses of these chemicals, including imported goods with these chemicals.”

The EPA has investigated safer dyes and colorants as alternatives to benzidine as part of its Safer Chemical Ingredients List and Design for the Environment program.