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U.S. EPA Proposes Significant New Rule for Nonylphenols

November 18, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a significant new use rule (SNUR) for 15 related chemical substances commonly known as nonylphenols (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE).

The proposal details that:

  • For 13 NPs and NPEs, EPA is proposing to designate any use as a "significant new use"
  • For two additional NPs, EPA is proposing that any use other than use as an intermediate or use as an epoxy cure catalyst would constitute a "significant new use."

According to the EPA, NPEs are nonionic surfactants that are used in a wide variety of industrial applications and consumer products. Many of these, such as laundry detergents, are “down-the-drain” applications. Some others, such as dust-control agents and de-icers, lead to direct release into the environment.

NPEs, though less toxic than NPs, degrade to the more toxic and persistent, less ethoxylated forms of these chemical substances in the environment. Both NPs and NPEs are highly toxic to aquatic organisms.

Persons subject to these SNURs would be required to notify EPA at least 90 days before they manufacture (including import) or process any of these 15 chemical substances for a significant new use.

The required notification would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the new uses and protect against unreasonable risks, if any, from potential new exposures to NPs and NPEs, before that activity occurs.

The EPA is requesting public comment on or before December 1, 2014, on all aspects of this proposed rule.