EPA took another step to protect public health under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), recommending a ban on most uses of perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical known to pose substantial health concerns such as neurotoxicity and cancer. The proposal would protect people from these risks by prohibiting all consumer uses and allowing many industrial/commercial uses to continue only where strict workplace controls could be implemented, such as uses related to national security, aviation, and other critical infrastructure, and the agency's efforts to combat climate change.

PCE is a solvent that is frequently used in both commercial and consumer settings, including for dry cleaning and numerous industrial settings, as well as in consumer products like brake cleaners and adhesives.

The EPA decided that occupational non-users (workers nearby but not in direct touch with this chemical), consumers, and people close to consumers using products with PCE face health hazards due to exposure to PCE. The EPA has recognized risks for harmful impacts on human health, such as neurotoxicity from dermal and inhalation exposures as well as cancer consequences from long-term inhalation exposure. Although EPA only seldom detected potential threats to fenceline communities, the restrictions and other conditions in EPA's proposed rule are anticipated to significantly reduce any potential dangers to the nearby communities.

Most industrial and commercial usage, as well as all consumer uses of PCE, would be rapidly phased out under the EPA's proposed risk management rule, which would take place over 24 months.

EPAS’ strategy:

The EPA is recommending a 10-year phaseout of PCE in dry cleaning, with compliance dates varying depending on the machine type. In addition, financing for fresh awards for pollution avoidance was suggested in President Biden's Fiscal Year 2024 budget request. These grants would aid small enterprises in adopting TSCA-compliant procedures while also minimizing negative economic effects. If put into practice, these grants might help small companies like dry cleaners migrate away from PCE.

EPA is proposing a workplace chemical protection program with a tight breathing exposure limit and restrictions to prevent skin exposure for industrial manufacturing, industrial processing, and other uses of PCE that EPA is not seeking to prohibit. This will assure worker protection.

The general public is urged to read and give feedback on the proposed rule. EPA is particularly interested in hearing opinions from organizations that would be required to implement the proposed program about the timing for the phaseout of PCE use in dry cleaning as well as the viability and effectiveness of the proposed requirements for worker protections.

In the upcoming weeks, EPA will hold a public webinar to discuss the proposed program with businesses, employees, and anyone else interested in an overview of the proposed regulatory action. Information on the day, time, and registration will be released soon. For 60 days, EPA will seek public comments on the proposed PCE rule.

Reference: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-proposes-ban-all-consumer-and-many-commercial-uses-perchloroethylene-protect

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