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EPA Imposes Import Restrictions on Chemicals Used in Carpets

Thursday, October 03, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Sept. 30 a final rule that will establish import restrictions on potentially harmful chemicals that could be used in carpets. An EPA press release states that this significant new use rule will require companies to report all new uses of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances, including in domestic and imported products. The use of two LCPFAC chemical substances as a surfactant in carpet cleaning products is not covered by this rule.

LCPFAC chemicals were once used for soil and stain resistance in carpets but were voluntarily phased out by the U.S. chemical industry due to concerns about the risk they pose to human and animal health. However, these chemicals could still be imported in carpets. The rule therefore requires persons who intend to import, manufacture or process any LCPFAC chemical for use as part of carpets or for treating carpet (e.g., for use in the carpet aftercare market) to notify the EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity. This notification will provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, place limits on importers, manufacturers or processors who intend to reintroduce or import products with these chemicals.

The EPA notes that this rule is one of several actions it has taken to protect the public from perfluorinated chemicals. In 2006, the eight major U.S. companies producing LCPFAC chemicals committed to a voluntary program under which they pledged to reduce global emissions and product content of LCPFAC chemicals by the end of 2015. As part of this phaseout the industry stopped using LCPFAC chemicals on carpets and aftercare treatment products. The EPA has issued other SNURs to require agency review prior to the reintroduction of other perfluorinated chemicals included in the voluntary phaseout, anticipates another such rule in early 2014, and expects to issue SNURs on other chemicals that will include imported products.

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