Electronic Products & Technology

New US restrictions of substances in products

June 1, 2021  By Aury Hathout, certified environmental auditor, Enviropass Enterprise Inc.

Unlike the European Union, North America tends to let the industry voluntarily reduce hazardous substances in manufactured products. A recent US reform may change this forever with the legal obligation to restrict certain chemicals.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

History of TSCA

The Toxic Substances Control Act, also abbreviated as TSCA or TOSCA, is a 45 years old federal law that rules new or existing chemicals in the USA. Its objective is similar to the European Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) with its domestic and non-domestic substances lists. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the TSCA implementation.

Source: Enviropass Enterprise Inc.

The Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act

Over the years, various civil groups have criticized TSCA for not adequately protecting human health and the environment. As a result, a bipartisan initiative led to an amendment called the ‘Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act’ or ‘TSCA Modernization Act of 2015’. Such reform includes provisions to assess chemical risks and prioritize concrete actions.

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Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT)

Targeted substances include those that are considered persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT). Persistent substances take a very long time before naturally disappearing. Bioaccumulative chemicals tend to concentrate in animal bodies, especially in adipose tissues (fat). Finally, toxic compounds alter some forms of life. As a result, PBT substances combine all three risk factors.

Regulated PBT Chemicals in Articles

At the beginning of 2021, the EPA chemicals evaluation brought to the regulation of five PBT chemicals in products (articles). Here they are, with their possible utilization by the industry:

Relation with other Requirements Worldwide

Like RoHS, the TSCA PBT substances are either prohibited or restricted. Some directly affect the electrical and electronic industry, particularly PIP (3:1) and DecaBDE. DecaBDE is one of the PBDEs already ruled under both EU RoHS and REACH (as a substance of very high concern SVHC). The REACH regulation targets additional BPT substances.

The Future of the TSCA PBT Rules

The chemicals above are the first five restricted PBT in articles. EPA has extended a 180-day grace period for PIP (3:1). EPA will most likely address additional PBT chemicals which may affect electronic manufacturers worldwide.

Additional references:

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