EPA Seeks Input on Two Additives

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency is asking for additional public input on final rules for five chemicals deemed persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The chemicals impacted by the rules, which took effect in February, include two used to make lubricants and as lubricant additives.

According to EPA, 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol, is used in formulations and mixtures for liquid lubricant and grease additives. Isopropylated phosphate (3:1) is used to make lubricants and greases, and in 2019 EPA had announced it would make exceptions for such uses.

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The agency deemed 2,4,6-TTBP as toxic to aquatic plants, aquatic invertebrates, and fish. Surveyed animal data indicate the potential for liver and developmental effects. The final rule for 2,4,6-TTBP prohibits the distribution in commerce of the chemical and products containing it at concentrations above 0.3% by weight in any container with a volume of less than 35 gallons in order to minimize the use of the chemical as a fuel additive or fuel injector cleaner by consumers and small commercial operations.

The final rule also prohibits the processing and distribution in commerce of 2,4,6-TTBP, and products containing it, for use as an oil or lubricant additive in concentrations above 0.3% by weight regardless of container size.

The final rule for phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) or PIP 3:1 received exceptions for use in aviation hydraulic fluid in hydraulic systems and in specialty hydraulic fluids for military applications, as well as for use in lubricants and greases in general.

As a first step in its efforts to immediately review these rules, EPA in February opened a 60-day comment period for the public to provide new input on whether the rules sufficiently reduce exposure to these chemicals, including exposures to potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations and the environment. Another stated reason is so the agency can consider additional or alternative measures or approaches.

The agency said in a news release that it is performing the review in accordance with the Protecting Public Health and Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle to Climate Crisis Executive Order, which asks all agencies to review their actions to ensure that they meet statutory obligations, are guided by the best available science, ensure the integrity of federal decision-making, and protect human health and the environment.

EPA said it will use the feedback received during this public comment period to determine the best path forward, which could include amending the current rules to include additional or alternative exposure reduction measures or extending compliance dates for certain regulated products and articles. The Federal Register item was published March 16, and public comments will be accepted through May 17.

For more information, visit the Federal Register website.