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EPA Takes Action to Protect Consumers from Harmful Chemicals that can Cause Reproductive and Developmental Harm

Release Date: 12/10/2014
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to protect the public from seven ethylene glycol ethers or glymes chemicals that can cause health effects including birth defects and blood toxicity.

“Today’s action is part of our continuing efforts to help ensure that chemicals in products we use every day are safe for the American public,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “Finalizing this action could prevent an increase in the use of these chemicals and reduce human exposure through ingestion and inhalation.”

Some of these chemicals are currently used in consumer products, including paints, inks, and glues. The final rule will allow EPA to review any proposed new uses of these chemicals to ensure that human health and the environment are protected. EPA believes that new uses of these chemicals should not be allowed without an opportunity for review and, if necessary, place restrictions on these chemicals, as warranted.

EPA has also added one of the more toxic of these ethylene glycol ethers, ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (monoglyme), to the Work Plan for Chemical Assessments. Monoglyme met the criteria for priority assessment because of its toxicity and use in some commercial and consumer products. EPA will conduct a risk assessment for this chemical and determine if further risk reduction action should be taken.

This rule, known as a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), is issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act and will require manufacturers (including importers) to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in consumer products. This notification allows EPA the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity. SNURs ensure that once a chemical has been phased out or taken off the market for certain uses, no use can resume without notification and review by the agency.

A complete list of these chemicals and additional information about this SNUR on ethylene glycol ethers (glymes) can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/glymes.html