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July 5, 2017

Volume 17 Issue 52

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EPA Shifts Course on Chlorinated Paraffins

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into consent orders that allow three companies to manufacture and import a wide range of chlorinated paraffin substances, including medium-, long- and very long-chain CPs.

This represents a sharp change in direction from the Obama administration. In 2015, the EPA said it was taking steps to ban medium- and long-chain CPs as early as 2016 using its authority under the Toxic Substance Control Act. That alarmed CP manufacturers, who said elimination would hit them and their customers hard across many applications.

Instead, Dover Chemical, Inovyn and Qualice LLC recently signed consent orders with the Environmental Protection Agency that approve all outstanding chlorinated paraffin pre-manufacture notices, the Chlorinated Paraffins Industry Association announced in an update last week.

Tom Kelley, Dover Chemical’s global business director for chlorinated paraffins, told Lube Report that, “after battling this issue with the EPA for almost eight years, it’s good to finally have a clear path forward. The tremendous industry support we received with this issue was greatly appreciated and certainly helped to bring science and reason back into the discussions. Dover Chemical remains committed to this business.”

James MacNeil, product manager for Qualice LLC, said in an e-mailed statement that, "Qualice is glad that the uncertainty involving the regulatory status of chlorinated paraffins has been resolved."

Chlorinated paraffins are chlorinated alkanes that have carbon chain lengths ranging from 10 to 38, with varying degrees of chlorination. Those with lengths from C14 to C17 are classed as medium chain; from C18 to C20 as long chain; and C21 and higher as very long-chain. CPs are used in metalworking fluids as extreme-pressure agents, especially for difficult drawing, forming and removal operations.

Metalworking fluids applied during metalworking.

Photo: kadmy/iStock

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into consent orders that allow three companies to manufacture and import a wide range of chlorinated paraffin substances, including medium-, long- and very long-chain CPs. Chlorinated paraffins are chlorinated alkanes that have carbon chain lengths ranging from 10 to 38 with varying degrees of chlorination. They are used in metalworking fluids as extreme-pressure agents, especially in difficult drawing, forming and removal operations.

According to the association, notices of commencement are now being submitted to EPA for these substances, which will result in the agency adding these substances to the Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory. A notice about this is expected to appear in the Federal Register in the near future. Andrew Jacques, manager of the CPIA, said that the three consent orders will result in 10 new CP Chemical Abstracts Service numbers added to the TSCA inventory. CAS number is a unique numeric identifier that serves as a link to detailed information about a specific chemical substance. “Now they’re existing chemicals, so if EPA wanted to remove them from the market, they’d have to go through a process that would involve more notice and comment and other things like that,” Jacques noted.

The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association noted in a June 28 update to its members that receiving the updated CAS numbers will trigger the requirement under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard to update safety data sheets (SDS).

The EPA is also expected to issue a Significant New Use Rule in the near future that applies the consent order requirements to any manufacturer or importer of these substances that is not a signatory to the consent order.

The consent order and future Significant New Use Rule will require manufacturers and importers of these substances to conduct a series of studies about the aquatic toxicity and biodegradability of permitted CPs over the next five years. It also limits the use to “a flame retardant and plasticizer in PVC and polymers; a flame retardant, plasticizer and lubricant in adhesives, caulks, sealants and coatings; an additive in lubricants, including metalworking fluids; a flame retardant and plasticizer in rubber; a flame retardant and waterproofer to textiles.” The CPIA believes those uses cover all existing applications of these CP substances.

In December 2014 EPA provided a draft risk assessment on mid- and long-chain CP. The agency expressed concerns for risk to aquatic organisms that were subjected to acute or chronic exposure to the chemicals, and that they may have a high tendency to accumulate in living organisms, though EPA did not find a risk to health in humans. In January 2015, EPA sent letters to the three PMN submitters – Dover Chemical, Ineos Chlor Americas and Qualice – indicating that, based on the agency’s draft risk assessment, the mid-chain and long-chain CP could no longer be produced past May 2016. The other option then cited by EPA was to pull the PMNs and stop making the substances immediately.

In September 2015 it announced a postponement until mid-2017 to allow producers and users time to prepare. But the agency never signaled any intent to diverge from that course until after Donald Trump took office. In April of this year the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association said the new administration had decided to instead review medium- and long-chain CPs as existing rather than new chemicals under TSCA – as ILMA had requested – and that this would likely lead them to be permitted.

“This is a welcome development for the metalworking members of ILMA,” ILMA CEO Holly Alfano said in an emailed statement. “There will certainly be additional challenges ahead with some product testing for CP manufacturers, and metalworking formulators will need to update safety data sheets at some point. However, this is a much more favorable outcome than having to reformulate products in the short time frame of two years as EPA originally planned. We appreciate the leadership of EPA’s new administrator and his team in working with the CP manufacturers and our coalition.”

“The metalworking industry should feel comforted that they’re going to have a range of products,” CPIA Manager Jacques said in an interview, “I feel like now they have the most options they can get, and I think that’s going to be that way for quite some time – that’s probably the best part about this.”

The Chlorinated Paraffins Industry Association stated on June 27 that it is in the preliminary stages of developing a testing program to address EPA’s requirements and will work to complete the testing program in the allotted five-year period. “After this initial announcement, there probably won’t be much to report on for quite some time, since the testing program will last five years and then EPA will need time to review the data after that,” Jacques told Lube Report. “EPA’s going to get some additional data on endpoints that they consider important, and then once they get that data they’ll be in a better position, they feel, to review these chemicals.”