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|Lynn L. Bergeson
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published on December 28, 2011, proposed significant new use rules (SNUR) for 17 chemical substances that were the subject of premanufacture notices (PMN). 76 Fed. Reg. 81447. Of particular interest, seven of the PMN substances' reported chemical names include the term "carbon nanotube" (CNT) or "CNT" and seven of the PMN substances include the term "fullerene."
December 29th, 2011
EPA Publishes Proposed SNURs for CNTs and Fullerenes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published on December 28, 2011, proposed significant new use rules (SNUR) for 17 chemical substances that were the subject of premanufacture notices (PMN). 76 Fed. Reg. 81447. Of particular interest, seven of the PMN substances' reported chemical names include the term "carbon nanotube" (CNT) or "CNT" and seven of the PMN substances include the term "fullerene." EPA states that because of a lack of established nomenclature for CNTs, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory names for CNTs are currently in generic form, e.g., "carbon nanotube (CNT), multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT), double-walled carbon nanotube (DWCNT), or single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT)." EPA uses the specific structural characteristics provided by the PMN submitter to characterize more specifically the TSCA Inventory listing for an individual CNT. According to EPA, all submitters of new chemical notices for CNTs have claimed those specific structural characteristics as confidential business information (CBI). The proposed rule includes the generic chemical name along with the PMN number to identify that a distinct chemical substance was the subject of the PMN without revealing the confidential chemical identity of the PMN substance.
EPA notes that, since confidentiality claims preclude a more detailed description of the identity of the CNTs, if an intended manufacturer, importer, or processor of CNTs is unsure of whether its CNTs are subject to the proposed SNURs, the company can either contact EPA or obtain a written determination from EPA pursuant to the bona fide procedures at 40 C.F.R. § 721.11. EPA states that it is using the specific structural characteristics, for all CNTs submitted as new chemical substances under TSCA, to help develop standard nomenclature for placing these chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory. EPA has compiled a generic list of those structural characteristics entitled "Material Characterization of Carbon Nanotubes for Molecular Identity (MI) Determination & Nomenclature."
The seven fullerene PMNs were submitted in 2009. The substances are used as an intermediate compound for use in producing "downstream products" that are in turn used in organic electronic devices and as an additive to improve mechanical properties or conductivity. The substances are also used as a compound used in fabrication for/or operation of electronic devices that enables or improves the conductivity, efficiency, voltage, or other characteristics of the device, among other applications.
For all fourteen PMN substances, EPA determined that uncontrolled manufacture, import, processing, distribution in commerce, use, and disposal may present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment. Accordingly, TSCA Section 5(e) required EPA to issue risk-based consent orders mandating protective measures to limit exposures or otherwise to mitigate the potential unreasonable risk.
Comments on the proposal are due January 27, 2012.