The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that companies be required to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic and imported products, of five groups of potentially harmful chemicals. Over the years, these chemicals have been used in a range of consumer products and industrial applications, such as paints, printing inks, pigments, and dyes in textiles, flame retardants in flexible foams, and plasticizers.

The five chemicals EPA is targeting are polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), benzidine dyes, a short chain chlorinated paraffin, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and phthalate di-n-phthalate (DnPP). The agency is also proposing additional testing on the health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

Although a number of these chemicals are no longer manufactured in the U.S., they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in products, says EPA.

The proposed regulatory actions are known as significant new use rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The proposed rule would require anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the chemicals for an activity that is designated as a significant new use to notify EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. This notification means that EPA can then evaluate the intended new use and take action to prohibit or limit that activity, if warranted.

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