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May 9, 2011

EPA Issues Final SNUR for Certain Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 6, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated a final significant new use rule (SNUR) under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for the chemical substance identified generically as multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), which was the subject of premanufacture notice (PMN) P-08-199. Under the final SNUR, persons intending to manufacture, import, or process MWCNT for a use that is designated as a significant new use by the final rule must notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity. EPA states that it believes the final rule is necessary “because the chemical substance may be hazardous to human health,” and the required notification would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity before it occurs. The final rule will be effective June 6, 2011.

EPA issued a proposed SNUR on February 3, 2010, and then on July 28, 2010, it reopened the comment period for 30 days to address public comment and add information to the docket. In the May 6, 2011, Federal Register notice, EPA states that, in response to comments on the basis for the proposed SNUR, EPA developed a revised summary document entitled “Summary of EPA’s Current Assessments of Health and Environmental Effects of Carbon Nanotubes,” which specifies EPA’s current hazard concerns as supported by available information and data. According to the May 6, 2011, notice, EPA considered comments on the proposed SNUR, and the final SNUR:

  • Retains the proposed workplace protection and specific use provisions as significant new uses;
  • Adds exclusions from applicability of the SNUR uses identified as ongoing; and
  • Identifies those forms of the subject PMN substance that are exempt from the provisions of the SNUR. These exemptions apply to quantities of the PMN substance:
    • 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.