Under a congressional mandate, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing 10 chemicals to determine if they pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment and should be subject to additional regulation. They range from asbestos, which was widely used for decades in products including insulation and roofing materials, to the dry cleaning chemical PCE.
Here’s a look at what the 10 chemicals are used for and the hazards they pose to human health and the environment:
- 1,4-Dioxane – Uses: chemicals manufacturing, laboratory chemical, in adhesives and sealants and residual amounts in some consumer products. Hazard: possible human carcinogen.
- 1-Bromopropane – Uses: solvent in spray adhesives and dry cleaning, foam cushion manufacturing, lubricant, refrigerant and as a degreaser. Hazard: possible human carcinogen, neurotoxicity, reproductive problems and lung cancer.
- Asbestos – Uses: insulation, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, chlor-alkali production, consumer products and other applications. Also found in certain imported products such as brakes, friction products, gaskets, packing materials and building materials. Hazard: known human carcinogen; acute and chronic toxicity from inhalation.
- Carbon Tetrachloride – Uses: petrochemical manufacturing, degreasing and cleaning, adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, rubber, cement and asphalt formulation. Hazard: probable human carcinogen.
- Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD) – Uses: Flame retardant in extruded polystyrene foam for insulation, textiles, and electrical and electronic appliances. Hazard: toxic to aquatic organisms; potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects in humans.
- Methylene Chloride – Uses: paint stripping, adhesives, pharmaceutical manufacturing, metal cleaning, aerosol solvents, chemical processing, flexible polyurethane foam manufacturing, and miscellaneous other uses. Hazard: probable human carcinogen.
- N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) – Uses: about 184 million pounds (83 million kilograms) annually in petrochemical processing, plastics, coatings (i.e., resins, paints, finishes, inks and enamels), electronics and other chemical manufacturing, paint removal, and industrial and consumer cleaning, paint removal products, auto care products, home cleaning products, and arts and craft materials. Hazard: reproductive toxicity.
- Pigment Violet 29 – Uses: automotive paints, watercolor and acrylic paints, carpeting, inks, cleaning agents, pharmaceuticals, solar cells, paper, architectural uses, polyester fibers, sporting goods, appliances, agricultural equipment and oil and gas pipelines. Estimated to have moderate releases to the environment. Hazard: toxic to aquatic organisms.
- Trichloroethylene (TCE) – Uses: about 250 million pounds (113 million kilograms) per year in manufacturing for refrigerant chemicals, consumer products including as a degreasing solvent and as a spotting agent in dry cleaning. Uses: consumer products. Hazard: probable human carcinogen, can affect developing fetuses, respiratory irritant.
- Tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene or PCE) – Uses: a solvent used in a wide range of industrial, commercial and industrial applications including in dry cleaning, automotive products, cleaning and furniture care, lubricants, sealants, adhesives, paints and coatings. Hazard: probable human carcinogen.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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