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E.P.A. Delays Bans on Uses of Hazardous Chemicals


The proposed bans focused methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), substances in paint strippers, and trichloroethylene (TCE), used as a spot cleaner in dry-cleaning and as a degreasing agent.

Below an overhaul of the Poisonous Substances Management Act final yr, the E.P.A. initially is reviewing the dangers of ten chemical compounds, together with different makes use of of those three. The up to date legislation is named the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Security for the 21st Century Act, named after the late New Jersey senator who had lengthy championed an overhaul of the loophole-ridden poisonous substances legislation.

The revised legislation had robust bipartisan assist. The Senate handed the measure on a voice vote; the Home authorised it 403 to 12. The intention was to present the E.P.A. the authority essential to require new testing and regulation of hundreds of chemical compounds utilized in on a regular basis merchandise, from laundry detergents to provides.

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E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt testifying earlier than a Home committee earlier this month. The E.P.A. has declined to pursue bans on sure makes use of of three poisonous chemical compounds.

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Pete Marovich/Getty Photos

In a compromise that disillusioned some environmental advocates, the legislation required the E.P.A. to look at about 20 chemical compounds at a time, for not than seven years per chemical. However the legislation expressly allowed for sooner motion on high-risk makes use of of methylene chloride, NMP and TCE.

Public well being specialists had been pushing for sooner evaluation of methylene chloride-based paint strippers after a number of deaths from inhalation, amongst them a 21-year-old who died not too long ago after stripping a tub.

It has been a number of years for the reason that E.P.A. first declared these functions of the three chemical compounds to be harmful. The company itself has discovered TCE “carcinogenic to people by all routes of publicity” and has reported that it causes developmental and reproductive harm.

“Potential well being issues from publicity to trichloroethylene, primarily based on restricted epidemiological information and proof from animal research, embody decreased fetal progress and delivery defects, notably cardiac delivery defects,” company officers famous in 2013.

Methylene chloride is poisonous to the mind and liver, and NMP can hurt the reproductive system.

Michael Dourson, President Trump’s nominee to supervise the E.P.A.’s chemical security department, in 2010 represented the Halogenated Solvents Business Alliance earlier than the E.P.A., which was contemplating restrictions on TCE.

Mr. Dourson, who withdrew his identify from consideration final week, had been working as an E.P.A. adviser whereas awaiting affirmation. The company didn’t reply to a question about whether or not Mr. Dourson had been concerned within the analysis of TCE.

The E.P.A. now describes the enforcement actions relating to TCE, methylene chloride and NMP as “long-term actions’’ with out a set deadline.

“The delays are very disturbing,” mentioned Dr. Richard Denison, lead senior scientist of the Environmental Protection Fund. “This newest agenda exhibits that as an alternative of utilizing their expanded authorities below this new legislation, the E.P.A. is shoving well being protections from extremely poisonous chemical compounds to the very again of the again burner.”

Consultant Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey and the rating minority member of the Home Vitality and Commerce committee, agreed, saying, “These indefinite delays are pointless and harmful.”

“The dangerous impacts of those chemical compounds are avoidable, and E.P.A. ought to finalize the proposed guidelines as quickly as doable,’’ he added.

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