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July 12, 2011

EPA Announces Proposed SNUR for 14 Glymes

The ACTA Group

On July 11, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed significant new use rule (SNUR) for 14 glymes, a class of chemicals structurally related to glycol ethers. According to EPA, the proposed rule, issued under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), would require persons who intend to manufacture, import, or process the glymes for an activity that is designated as a significant new use to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity. The notification would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity before it occurs. Comments are due September 9, 2011. EPA states that the docket will be available at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2009-0767.

According to EPA, the SNUR is a follow-up action resulting from Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) “Risk-Based Prioritization” (RBP) documents on monoglyme and diglyme published on March 18, 2008. EPA is concerned about the reproductive and/or developmental toxicity of three glymes — monoglyme, diglyme, and ethylglyme — and believes that individuals could suffer adverse effects from their use. The proposed SNUR notes that 2-methoxyethanol, a glycol ether that was regulated in an earlier SNUR (see below), is a metabolite of one of the glymes. EPA states that, of the 14 glymes, 12 have industrial or consumer uses of some kind and two have no current uses. EPA has “preliminarily determined that the manufacture, import, or processing of 12 of the glymes for ‘any use in a consumer product’ is a significant new use, although some ongoing uses are excluded from the SNUR. In addition, EPA has primarily determined that the manufacture, import, or processing of the remaining two glymes for ‘any use’ is a significant new use.” More information is available online.

Commentary

It is gratifying to see that EPA has proposed this SNUR, which was first identified as an EPA action under the ChAMP program over three years ago. As noted above, the glymes are structurally related to the glycol ethers. EPA in 2005 promulgated SNURs for “domestic use in a consumer product” for two glycol ethers and their acetates (40 C.F.R. § 721.10001). That rule also included a 10,000 pound production trigger under the SNUR for one of the glycol ethers, 2-methoxyethanol acetate.

The current SNUR appears to take a similar approach although some uses in consumer products have been excluded from the SNUR insofar as they are ongoing and not eligible for treatment as a “significant new use.” The proposed SNUR also identifies a number of “unconfirmed uses” for several of the glymes and for which EPA is uncertain if the use is ongoing. The final point is to note that the “any use” trigger proposed on two of the glymes is based on the absence of reports under the Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) rule (the IUR reporting trigger of 10,000 pounds/year at a site). Any entity having commercial interests in any of these substances should carefully review the SNUR and consider the need for comments.