Environmental Officials Announce New Toxic Chemical Rules
New reporting requirements for 18 carcinogens, including formaldehyde and hexavalent chromium compounds and 16 other chemicals, added to national toxic chemical list
BOSTON – January 11, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. today announced new regulations regarding the use of toxic chemicals in Massachusetts. The regulations, which took effect January 1, increase the number of companies required to report use of some of these chemicals by approximately 20 companies.
The Toxics Use Reduction Administrative Council, the six-member governing body of the Toxic Use Reduction program overseen by EEA, and chaired by Secretary Sullivan, designated both hexavalent chromium compounds and formaldehyde as Higher Hazard Substances and added 16 chemicals to the Toxic Use Reduction Act (TURA) list of toxic or hazardous chemicals. The designations require additional companies to report on the use of these chemicals and evaluate whether there are cost-effective ways to reduce that use.
“These new rules protect public health and provide companies with assistance to decrease the use of these harmful substances over time,” said Secretary Sullivan.
The TURA Council is charged with coordinating state enforcement of laws and regulations on chemical use and toxic waste generation, implementing policies that promote worker health and safety, and safeguarding public health. Under EEA’s new regulations, as of January 1, companies are required to track usage for hexavalent chromium compounds and formaldehyde for inclusion on reports to be filed with the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) on July 1, 2013. Companies using these chemicals must also submit to MassDEP summaries on plans to reduce their use on July 1, 2014.
As a result of the higher hazard designations, the council lowered the reporting thresholds for hexavalent chromium compounds and formaldehyde from 10,000 or 25,000 pounds, depending on how the chemicals are used at manufacturing facilities, to 1,000 pounds. The industries affected by the hexavalent chromium compounds designation include companies that use custom compounded resins, inorganic pigments, plastics products, or which perform plating or surface finishing. The number of companies required to report use is estimated to rise from eight to 20 statewide.
Those affected by the formaldehyde designation include coated fabrics, coated and laminated paper, and chemicals and resins manufacturing. The numbers of companies required to report is estimated to increase from nine to as many as 20 statewide.
EEA's Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) will help companies affected by this new reporting requirement find and implement less toxic, cost-effective alternatives that will allow them to operate more safely while remaining competitive in the global economy. Alternative manufacturing methods and chemical substitutes are expected to be available for most users.
For 19 consecutive years, companies have reduced toxics use by hundreds of millions of pounds. According to the most recent company-reported data from 2009, companies used 75 million pounds less toxic substances in 2009, eight percent less than in 2008, and reduced their resulting waste by seven percent. Companies have reduced the use of toxic substances by 21 percent since 2000.
On November 30, 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency added 16 chemicals to its Toxic Chemical List. With this action, the chemicals were also added to Massachusetts’ TURA list of Toxic or Hazardous Chemicals. MassDEP estimates that 16 of the chemicals are not used in significant quantities in Massachusetts and most likely will not impact any Massachusetts businesses. The chemicals listed are: 1-Amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone, 2,2-bis(Bromomethyl)-1,3 propanediol, Furan, Glycidol, Isoprene, Methyleugenol, Nitroanisole, Nitromethane, Phenolphthalein, Tetrafluoroethylene, Tetranitromethane, Vinyl Fluoride, 1,6-Dinitropyrene, 1,8-Dinitropyrene, 6-Nitrochrysene, and 4-Nitropyrene. The chemicals have acute and chronic health effects on humans and are classified as carcinogenic to humans.
“Over the past 20 years, TURA has been a proven mechanism for reducing the use and release of chemicals that are hazardous to public health and the environment, while simultaneously promoting the economic health of Massachusetts’ businesses,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Lowering the threshold for these chemicals will lower our exposure to substances that are known to cause cancer, asthma and other respiratory ailments.”
OTA, the Commonwealth's center for technical information and assistance, helps businesses and other organizations improve their environmental performance as well as conserve energy, water and other resources. OTA promotes the implementation of strategies that enable businesses to enhance their competitiveness as they reduce use of toxic chemicals, prevent pollution, conserve resources, and ensure worker health and safety. For nearly two decades, OTA has been a cornerstone of the Commonwealth's efforts to provide citizens with a cleaner and healthier environment.