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California Formally Proposes to List Certain Insulation Materials as Priority Product

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control will accept comments through 16 May on a proposal to designate spray polyurethane foam systems with unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates as a priority product under the Safer Consumer Products regulations. The regulations define a priority product as a consumer product that contains one or more chemicals that have a hazard trait that can harm people or the environment. Designation of these items as a priority product would impose certain reporting requirements as well as more stringent conditions on manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers of subject merchandise.

The proposal covers spray polyurethane foam systems containing liquid chemical mixtures in two separate containers that are sold or distributed together. The two separate containers are commonly referred to as Side A and Side B. Side A contains unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates while Side B contains a mixture of polyols and other ingredients that may include catalysts, blowing agents, flame retardants and surfactants. The chemical mixtures in the sides react when mixed together to form polyurethane foam that is used for insulation, roofing, or sealing and filling voids and gaps. This product-chemical combination includes high-pressure spray polyurethane foam systems as well as low-pressure spray polyurethane foam systems.

DTSC is proposing this action because workers and consumers could be exposed to unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates during normal use of spray polyurethane foam systems. Inhalation and dermal exposure to unreacted MDI is associated with adverse health effects, including asthma and allergic sensitisation. People who become sensitised to MDI may also experience life-threatening asthma attacks when subsequently exposed to extremely low levels of isocyanates.

The American Chemistry Council contends, however, that industry has provided extensive data and science to DTSC in the more than three years since spray polyurethane foam systems were first suggested for prioritisation under the Safer Consumer Products regulations that these products do not meet the minimum listing criteria under the regulations. ACC believes that there is no substitute for the multi-attribute performance of spray polyurethane foam systems and no drop-in alternative for MDI used in these products.

The Safer Consumer Products regulations require responsible entities (manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers) to notify DTSC when their product is listed as a priority product, and DTSC will post that information on its Web site. Manufacturers or other responsible entities of products listed as priority products will be required to perform an “alternatives analysis” for the product and the chemicals of concern in that product to determine how best to limit exposures or the level of adverse public health and environmental impacts posed by the chemicals of concern. DTSC will also have to identify and require implementation of regulatory responses to protect public health and/or the environment and maximise the use of acceptable and feasible alternatives of least concern.

DTSC has the authority to require regulatory responses for a priority product (if the manufacturer decides to retain the priority product) or for an alternative product selected to replace the priority product. This may include ordering the removal or replacement of the chemical of concern in the product or the removal of the product from the California marketplace.

DTSC will only impose new regulatory requirements on product manufacturers if it finalises the draft list by adopting regulations. Last year, the agency formally proposed to list as a priority product children’s foam-padded sleeping products containing tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) or tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) and is also considering a potential designation for paint and varnish strippers and surface cleaners containing methylene chloride.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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