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EPA mandates hazard labels for CFC-blown foams.

Most producers of plastic foams have eliminated use of CFCs. Those who haven't are subject to a new EPA labeling requirement that, in the future, may also extend to users of HCFCs and HFCs. In February, the EPA issued a rule that implements labeling requirements in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This rule is notable mainly because it fingers CFCs as substances that must appear on health-warning labels.

Processors of reinforced thermoset composites should take note of a similar labeling proposal in the works. By the end of the year, EPA will probably introduce strict new rules governing the identification of hazardous wastes--including unreacted styrene monomer.


Under the EPA's latest labeling requirements, containers of ozone-depleting chemicals and products that contain or are manufactured with these chemicals must list the offending compound and have a clearly visible warning that the product contains "a substance which harms human health and environment by destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere." The rule is scheduled to go into effect May 15 for products made with CFCs and certain other halogenated solvents. In 2015, the same rule will apply to another group of substances that includes HCFCs.

While the list of chemicals that have to be listed is now relatively small, EPA says other substances could be added at some point--such as HFCs, even though these are considered to have near-zero ozone-depletion potential.

Because the time frame for implementation of these requirements is admittedly short, EPA has said it will not take any enforcement action on infractions that occur during the first nine months.

Under certain circumstances, EPA says, exemptions from the labeling requirements can be obtained. Some companies, for example, are exempt because they have made what the Agency says are "good-faith efforts" to eliminate the use of these substances. In order to qualify for this exemption, companies must be able to certify their reduction by no later than May 15, 1994. Products made exclusively for export are also exempt, but products being imported into this country are covered.


In late September, under pressure from environmental groups and state lawmakers, EPA withdrew its proposal to add a Hazardous Waste Identification Rule to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Nonetheless, EPA-watchers say at least one of the Agency's withdrawn proposals--to classify waste containing styrene as toxic--is likely to be included in the EPA replacement plan scheduled for completion this December. And, they warn, the new version could tighten the regulations on styrene-containing waste even more.

Styrene-containing waste--more specifically, unreacted unsaturated polyester resins--are already listed as hazardous waste because they have a flash point less than 140 F and are thus easily ignitable. Before long, they could be listed as toxic as well. In a recent report, EPA officials said they favored expanding toxicity testing of waste because such a move would allow the Agency to reallocate its resources away from waste-stream identification to ensuring that waste generators properly test their refuse to determine if it is hazardous.

"It is probably only a matter of time before EPA proposes to expand the toxicity characteristic to include more constituents such as styrene," says Peter de la Cruz, a Washington-based lawyer with Keller & Heckman, the SPI's legal counsel.
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Title Annotation:Regulatory Update; chlorofluorocarbons
Author:Monks, Richard
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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