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United States: EPA Published Final Significant NEW USE RULE on Certain PFAS Coating

JULY 2020 – RELEVANT FOR: ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS, HARDLINES, SOFTLINES, TOYS AND CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published the final Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) to regulate the use of certain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemicals (LCPFACs or long-chain PFAS) on the Federal Register1. This rule will affect not only chemical manufacturers but will also apply to importers of carpets and articles with surface coating containing LCPFACs. It will take effect from 25 September 2020. 

LCPFACs can be used widely from insulating wires to textile articles. Examples of articles containing such surface coating are furniture, medical garments, safety equipment, outdoor apparel or equipment, automobile components, aerospace components, electronics, heavy machinery, and household appliances. This SNUR requires corresponding persons to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the below activities:

  • Manufacturing (including importing) or processing of certain LCPFACs for any use that was not ongoing after December 31, 2015;
  • Manufacturing (including importing) or processing of all other LCPFACs for which there were no ongoing uses as of January 21, 2015;
  • Importing certain LCPFACs as part of a surface coating on articles; and
  • Importing perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemicals as part of carpets.

EPA evaluates the submitted notification and may impose applicable determination (e.g. restriction) to protect human health and the environment. The Agency provided an illustrative list of LCPFACs2 but there is no complete list of substances. This has to be determined via the chemical structure of LCPFACs. Gathering information from suppliers or testing the articles can be an option to evaluate the presences of these substances. If the substances subject to this SNUR are only unintentionally added, this can be exempted from this SNUR. However, EPA does not state the de minimis threshold level of LCPFACs. 

The production of LCPFACs was ceased after 2015 and it is unlikely to have a huge quantity imported to the US. Other regions such as European Union already restricts certain PFAS substances. US EPA3 believes that the likelihood of submitting the notification is minimal.

 

[1] Federal Register, Vol 85, No 144

[2] An Illustrative list of LCPFACs

[3] Economic analysis of the Final Significant New Use Rule for Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonates and Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate Chemical Substances

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