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Final significant new use rules (SNURs) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemicals have been published by the US EPA. These will become effective on September 25, 2020.

SAFEGUARDS | Consumer ProductsNO. 137/20

 SG 13720 Chemical

In July 2020, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule in the Federal Register (85 FR 45109) to finalize amendments to the significant new use rules (SNURs) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemicals, as well as to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemicals as part of a surface coating material on articles. 

According to 40 CFR 704.3, ‘article’ means a manufactured item (1) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture, (2) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use, and (3) which has either no change of chemical composition during its end use or only those changes of composition which have no commercial purpose separate from that of the article, and that result from a chemical reaction that occurs upon end use of other chemical substances, mixtures, or articles; except that fluids and particles are not considered articles regardless of shape or design. Examples of articles containing a surface coating may include apparel, automotive components, carpets, electronic components, furniture and outdoor equipment.

The final rule contains, inter alia, important changes to certain sections falling under 40 CFR Part 721 ‘Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances’. It:

  • Amends §721.9582 ‘Certain perfluoroalkyl sulfonates’ by requiring imported carpets containing the listed perfluoroalkyl sulfonates to submit a significant new use notice (SNUN) 
  • Details the completely new requirements for SNUs under §721.10536 ‘Long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances’ – these SNUs are related to: 
    • The manufacture/import or processing of LCPFAC chemicals in §721.10536(b)(1) for use as part of carpets or to treat carpets (e.g. for use in the carpet aftercare market)
    • The manufacture/import or processing of (20) LCPFAC chemicals in Table 1 to §721.10536(b)(2) for any use after December 31, 2015
    • The manufacture/import or processing of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts, including those in Table 2 to §721.10536(b)(3), for any use
    • The manufacture/import or processing of LCPFAC chemicals, except for the (20) LCPFAC chemicals in Table 1 to §721.10536(b)(2), for any use other than the use already described in sub-bullet point 1 above
  • Allows LCPFAC chemicals, including the (20) LCPFAC chemicals in Table 1 to §721.10536(b)(2) as well as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts, including those in Table 2 to §721.10536(b)(3), to be used in antireflective coatings, photoresists, or surfactants in photo microlithography and semiconductors or similar components of electronic or other miniaturized devices, without reporting as these are not considered as SNUs
  • Provides a list specific LCPFAC chemicals as well as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts with defined uses that are not considered as SNUs and will not be subject to reporting
  • Revokes SNUN exemptions for a person who imports the following:
    • Carpets containing an LCPFAC chemical listed in §721.10536(b)(1)
    • Articles with a surface coating containing an LCPFAC chemical in Table 1 to §721.10536(b)(2) or PFOA and its salts, including those in Table 2 to §721.10536(b)(3)

The Final Rule requires persons to notify the US EPA at least 90 days (by December 24, 2020) before commencing the manufacture/import or processing of LCPFAC and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemicals for SNUs as described in this notice. The required SNU notification initiates EPA’s evaluation of the conditions of use in relation to the SNU. The manufacture/import or processing for the SNU is prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required with that determination. 

This Final Rule, as with any SNUR, excludes ongoing uses as these cannot be subject to a SNUR.

The Final Rule will become effective on September 25, 2020. 

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