EPA Regulatory Hurdle on Horizon
by Susan Avery, CAE

he Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was originally passed by Congress in 1976. It gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, as well as restrictions relating to chemical substances and mixtures. In 2016, it was overhauled, updated and signed into law as the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

While the legislation was being drafted, IAPD’s government relations (GR) team became aware of an effort to push material testing downstream. Language in an early draft of the legislation would have moved the responsibility for product testing from the resin companies to manufacturers and distributors. This change would have been both expensive and devastating for IAPD members. Due to the cost of testing alone, it’s possible that many IAPD members would have been forced to go out of business.

IAPD fought this provision and, thanks to support from Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL-15), the language was removed from the legislation and it passed without this downstream testing provision. This was one of the first significant victories for IAPD’s fledgling GR program.

Susan Avery headshot
Possible ban on PIP
Fast forward to today, and we are now facing what could be an issue for members as a result of a requirement to “evaluate existing chemicals” under the new law. The EPA issued a ruling that, effective March 8, 2021, would prohibit sales in the United States of a chemical called phenol, isopropylated phosphate (PIP) and that prohibition extends to anything that contains PIP.

According to a legislative advisory from the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), “PIP is a liquid chemical substance widely used in making plastic products and a broad array of parts and components, coatings, adhesives, lubricants, sealants, hydraulics, electronics, electrical products, equipment of all types, gaskets, clamps, tubes, harnesses cables and casings. PIP acts as a flame retardant when added to plastics used to make all kinds of products, parts and components.”

If enacted, the EPA ban would extend to sales by manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other resellers. This rule would stop all sales in the United States of any product (including any component or part in the product) containing PIP. For example, more than 500 parts and components used in producing motor vehicles would become illegal to use or sell, stopping production lines.

The NAW is advising all distributors to ask your suppliers to confirm whether the products they sell you are PIP-containing products or articles subject to this EPA rule. If so, it may be illegal for you to resell those products in the United States if/when the rule is enforced.

“We are now facing what could be an issue for members as a result of an EPA requirement to ‘evaluate existing chemicals.’ The EPA issued a ruling that would prohibit sales in the United States of PIP and anything that contains PIP.”
On March 8, the EPA announced a 180-day “No Action Assurance” and opened a 60-day comment period to re-examine this rule. According to the EPA, they intend to extend compliance dates as needed for some of the products containing PIP. Feedback received by the EPA thus far has made a compelling case for the continued use of PIP. In addition to the sheer difficulty of tracking something like PIP throughout the global supply chain and the impact to numerous industries, it could impact the equipment needed to move COVID-19 vaccines and keep them at the proper temperature.

You can read the Federal Register notice here: www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-16/pdf/2021-05138.pdf.

IAPD is monitoring this situation and will provide comments in support of the benefits of PIP prior to the deadline of May 17, 2021. IAPD will also continue to share updates about this issue to members.

If you would like to comment, the EPA would like you to specify:

  • What articles (i.e., PIP) that need an alternative deadline.
  • The basis for the alternative deadline.
  • The additional time needed for specific articles (i.e., PIP) to clear channels of trade.