The rule exempts the manufacture, import, or processing of small quantities of multi-walled carbon nanotubes solely for research and development.

EPA Issues SNUR for Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Effective June 6, the significant new use rule requires those intending to manufacture, import, or process them for an activity designated as a significant new use by the final rule to notify EPA at least 90 days in advance.

As it proposed in February 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final significant new use rule (SNUR) under section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act for multi-walled carbon nanotubes. This means as of the June 6 effective date, persons who intend to manufacture, import, or process them for a use that is designated as a significant new use by the final rule must notify EPA at least 90 days before beginning that activity.

EPA said the action is necessary because multi-walled carbon nanotubes may be hazardous to human health. EPA cited concerns for lung effects, immunotoxicity, and mutagenicity resulting from exposure to them.

Potentially affected entities include chemical manufacturers and petroleum refineries, according to the agency.

EPA accepted comments about the proposed SNUR last year. Taking them into consideration, the agency's final rule:

1. Retains the proposed workplace protection, including use of respiratory protection "when workers are reasonably likely to be exposed," and specific use provisions as significant new uses

2. Adds exemptions for ongoing uses

3. Exempts three forms of multi-walled carbon nanotubes from the SNUR:

  • After they have been completely reacted (cured);
  • Incorporated or embedded into a polymer matrix that itself has been reacted (cured); or
  • Embedded in a permanent solid polymer form that is not intended to undergo further processing except for mechanical processing.

Also exempted are the manufacture, import, or processing of small quantities solely for research and development.

Significant new use notifications must be on EPA Form No. 7710-25, generated using e-PMN software, and submitted in accordance with the procedures set forth in 40 CFR Secs. 721.25 and 720.40. E-PMN software is available electronically at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/newchems.

In the final rule's text, EPA said it has decided the intent of TSCA section 5(a)(1)(B) "is best served by designating a use as a significant new use as of the date of publication of the proposed SNUR rather than as of the effective date of the final rule. If uses begun after publication were considered ongoing rather than new, it would be difficult for EPA to establish SNUR notice requirements because a person could defeat the SNUR by initiating the proposed significant new use before the rule became effective, and then argue that the use was ongoing before the effective date of the final rule.

"Any person who began commercial manufacture, import, or processing of the MWCNT described in PMN P-08-199 for any of the significant new uses designated in the proposed SNUR after the date of publication of the proposed SNUR must stop that activity before the effective date of this final rule. Persons who ceased those activities will have to meet all SNUR notice requirements and wait until the end of the notification review period, including all extensions, before engaging in any activities designated as significant new uses. If, however, persons who began manufacture, import, or processing of the chemical substance between the date of publication of the proposed SNUR and the effective date of this final SNUR meet the conditions of advance compliance as codified at Sec. 721.45(h), those persons would be considered to have met the final SNUR requirements for those activities."

The rulemaking docket, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2009-0686, is available at www.regulations.gov. For technical assistance, contact Jim Alwood, in the Chemical Control Division, EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, at 202-564-8974 or alwood.jim@epa.gov.

Also on May 6, EPA proposed a SNUR for elemental mercury for use in barometers, manometers, and hygrometers/psychrometers and asked for comments by July 5.

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