Canada imposes new reporting requirements for nanoscale substances.

Canada’s Minister of the Environment is requiring manufacturers and importers of certain nanoscale substances to report information for “the development of a list of nanomaterials in commerce in Canada and subsequent prioritization activities for these substances, which may include risk assessment and risk management activities.”

A notice published in the Canada Gazette on July 25 lists 206 substances by CAS number. A listed substance is reportable if it “has a size of between 1 and 100 nanometres in at least one external dimension, or internal or surface structure.” The Minister of Environment intends to use the reported data to assess whether the listed substances “are toxic or are capable of becoming toxic,” or to assess whether and how to control the substances.

The reporting requirements apply to any person who manufactured or imported more than 100 kg of a listed nanoscale substance in calendar year 2014, including imports of substances in mixtures and products, at any concentration. However, the notice does not apply to listed nanoscale substances that are in transit through Canada, are naturally occurring, were incidentally produced, or are covered by various other laws, such as the Fertilizers Act or Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.

Reportable information includes total quantities manufactured or imported, end uses (commercial, consumer, or use by children under 14 years of age) and studies or data on physical-chemical properties, bioaccumulation, persistence, toxicity, metabolism, degradation, and release or disposal from the final mixture or product. The reporting deadline is February 23, 2016.

Proposed reporting requirements for nanomaterials released.

Companies that manufacture, import or process nanoscale materials would be subject to reporting requirements under a new proposed rule released today by EPA. EPA is proposing reporting obligations concerning use, exposure, and other factors under section 8(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed rule would apply to nanoscale chemical substances in the marketplace that have unique properties related to their size. The agency intends to use this information to determine if any further action under TSCA is needed.

Under the proposed rule [pre-publication version, PDF], companies would be required to report if they manufactured or processed a “discrete form” of a reportable nanoscale substance during the three years preceding the rule’s final effective date. EPA also proposes a continuing reporting requirement for companies intending to manufacture or process a discrete form of a reportable chemical substance after the rule’s final effective date. These manufacturers or processors would be required to report to EPA 135 days before the commencement of manufacturing or processing.

To the extent that it is known or reasonably ascertainable to the reporter, companies would have to submit the following information:

  • Specific chemical identity;
  • Material characteristics like morphology and surface modifications;
  • Physical and chemical properties;
  • Maximum weight percentage of impurities and byproducts;
  • Production volumes;
  • Use information;
  • Detailed methods of manufacturing or processing;
  • Exposure information, including estimates of numbers of individuals exposed in the workplace or in other scenarios;
  • Release information, including estimates of amounts released;
  • Risk management practices, such as protective equipment or hazard warnings; and
  • Existing data concerning environmental and health effects.

Generally, nanoscale materials are chemical substances that have structures with dimensions “at the nanoscale,” meaning 1-100 nanometers (nm), and may have properties different from the same chemicals with structures at a larger scale, such as greater strength or lighter weight.  The proposed rule would apply to substances that are:

  • Solid at 25°C and atmospheric pressure; and are
  • Manufactured or processed in a form where the primary particles, aggregates, or agglomerates are in the size range of 1-100nm and exhibit unique and novel characteristics or properties because of their size.

The proposed reporting requirements apply to “discrete forms” of reportable chemical substances. In some cases, companies would be required to report separately for multiple nanoscale forms of the same chemical substance. The agency’s intent is to focus on “intentionally manufactured chemical substances at the nanoscale,” so unintended variations in particle sizes between production batches, for example, should not trigger § 8(a) reporting. EPA proposes to distinguish between these “discrete forms” based on a combination of the following three factors:

  1. a change in process to affect a change in size and/or a change in properties of the chemical substances manufactured at the nanoscale;
  2. a change in mean particle size of 10% or greater; and
  3. the measured change in at least one of the following properties, zeta potential, specific surface area, dispersion stability, or surface reactivity, is greater than 7 times the standard deviation of the measured values.

Other examples of discrete forms include nanomaterials with different morphologies (spheres vs. rods) and nanoscale forms of the same material but coated with different substances.

The proposed rule applies to mixtures, including when nanomaterials are manufactured or processed “solely as a component of a mixture, encapsulated material, or composite.” However, if a nanomaterial is incorporated into a mixture, encapsulated material, or composite by the nanomaterial’s manufacturer, the incorporation step does not have to be separately reported.

EPA proposes to apply a modified version of the existing small manufacturer/processor exemption to § 8(a) requirements. Because nanoscale materials are produced at much lower production volumes, EPA seeks to eliminate the 100,000 pound volume threshold for exempted small manufacturers or processors. Instead, a company could qualify as a small manufacturer/processor if it has “sales of less than $4 million” per year.

The proposed rule also excludes certain substances, including nanoclays, DNA, RNA, proteins, and chemical substances “which dissociate completely in water to form ions that are smaller than 1 nanometer.” Certain reporting which would be duplicative is also excepted; e.g., companies that submitted information under EPA’s voluntary Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program do not need to re-submit, nor do submitters of Premanufacture Notices (PMNs) filed since January 1, 2005.

Information would be collected electronically, using a modified version of the reporting form used by the voluntary NMSP initiative, and compatible with EPA’s existing Central Data Exchange (CDX) and Chemical Information Submission System (CISS), both used for other TSCA reporting. EPA is not proposing an inventory for nanoscale materials, although non-confidential information collected through this proposed rule would be published in ChemView.

In addition to the above proposed reporting requirements, EPA is seeking input on various related issues, including “the possibility of a future rule that would require periodic reporting of chemical substances manufactured at the nanoscale, similar to reporting that occurs under the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule.”

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule for 90 days following its publication in the Federal Register. The agency also anticipates holding a public meeting during the comment period.

EPA sued over lack of nanosilver regulations.

On December 16, a group of NGOs sued [PDF] the U.S. EPA over the agency’s failure to regulate nanosilver in consumer products. The plaintiffs, which include the Center for Food Safety, Center for Environmental Health, and Beyond Pesticides, seek to compel EPA to take action in response to their 2008 petition for rulemaking. The groups’ petition requested that EPA regulate nanosilver products as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), thus requiring product manufacturers to obtain pesticide registrations. The petition also asked EPA to analyze “the potential human health and environmental risks” of nanosilver under FIFRA and other environmental statutes, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Since the 2008 petition, EPA has accepted comments on the petition, enforced against companies making antimicrobial claims about nanosilver-containing products, convened a scientific advisory panel, and proposed a policy statement on the subject, but the NGOs maintain that EPA’s actions constitute an “ongoing failure to meaningfully regulate nanotechnology.” The plaintiffs contend that EPA has violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide a timely response to the 2008 petition.

The case is Center for Food Safety et al v. McCarthy, Case No. 14-cv-2131, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Scientists: 100nm definition for nanoparticles may be "inappropriate."

The 100 nanometer (nm) upper limit for defining nanoparticles may be “potentially inappropriate” and does not reflect the “complexity of ecological interactions” with nanoparticles, according to a viewpoint article [PDF] published in Environmental Sciences and Technology and highlighted by ChemicalWatch. According to a team of Chinese and American scientists, threshold sizes for nanoparticles likely exist and thus, critical sizes for environmental impacts are also likely to exist and exceed, or at least differ from, the 100 nm definition.

Studies show that nanoparticle threshold sizes vary with composition and shape, probably due to “changes in excess surface energy and crystallography of [nanoparticles] as size decreases.” Threshold size ranges have been established for nanoparticles based on physicochemical properties including particle dissolution, contaminant adsorption, and suspension stability, for example. However, further research is required to determine threshold sizes for complex biological effects like accumulation and toxicity, as nanoparticles may have size-specific mechanisms for transformation, reactive oxygen species production, etc.

The scientists point out that if threshold sizes for nanoparticles’ environmental impacts exist, changes in the effects could not be predicted by larger particle sizes, even under the 100 nm definition. Thus, to better assess and minimize environmental risks from nanoparticles, the size and functionalization of nanoparticles in development should be designed appropriately if that nanoparticle is determined to have substantially increased ecotoxicological effects below a certain threshold.

The scientists call for more research “to assess the potential for threshold sizes for environmental impacts and to assess if [nanoparticles] larger than the threshold sizes have different impacts than bulk particles of the same composition.” The results of such research could better inform the current size definition of nanoparticles and affect methods for modeling environmental impacts and risks.

EPA Proposes Significant New Use Rules for 37 Chemicals and Nanomaterials

TSCA/SNUR/Nanotechnology:

Background

Continuing its robust exercise of its expansive TSCA authority, EPA last week released proposed Significant New Use Rules (“SNURs”) under TSCA for 37 chemicals, including 14 nanoengineered carbon compounds. The SNURs cover a wide range of uses, including the manufacture, processing, and import of adhesives, coatings, colorants, lubricants, chemical intermediates, etc., and result from premanufacture notice (“PMN”) submissions from as long ago as 2000. For almost half of the affected chemicals, the SNURs essentially codify protective measures already required under existing consent orders; the rest are largely based on PMN use scenarios.

EPA has already determined that 17 of the substances addressed by the proposed rule “may present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or environment” and thus are subject to risk-based consent orders under TSCA § 5(e). The proposed SNURs for these substances adopt certain safety precautions already required by the consent orders. For example, for certain chemicals, workers would be required to wear specified respirators unless air monitoring shows that the substance is actually present in concentrations lower than the New Chemical Exposure Limit (“NCEL”). The NCEL provisions, already incorporated in the § 5(e) consent orders, were established by EPA “to provide adequate protection to human health” and modeled after Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). Users who wish to pursue the NCEL alternative to the respirator requirement would have to request permission to do so under 40 CFR § 721.30 (“EPA approval of alternative control measures.”) EPA anticipates approving such requests under the same conditions already present in the consent orders.

The other 20 substances covered by the new SNURs are not subject to § 5(e) consent orders. These “non-5(e) SNURs” cover certain changes from the use scenarios described in the PMNs which could result in increased exposure, per 40 CFR § 721.170(c)(2).

In addition to personal protective equipment, the SNURs impose various standard use restrictions on the chemicals, such as prohibiting manufacture in the U.S., limiting use to conditions specified in existing consent orders, and banning release to water. EPA also recommends various types of toxicity testing to better characterize the new chemicals’ environmental effects.

Regulatory actions flowing from SNURs

Upon promulgation of the SNURs, any users of the affected substances will be required to determine whether they must submit a Significant New Use Notification (“SNUN”) to EPA 90 days prior to engaging in one of the designated “new uses.” On receipt of the SNUN, EPA may take further regulatory action under TSCA § 5(e), 5(f), 6 or 7, or otherwise publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining its reasons for not taking action.

In addition, EPA’s proposal of the SNURs triggers export notification requirements under TSCA § 12(b). Any exporter or intended exporter of the affected chemicals must notify EPA of the first export or intended export to a particular country, unless the substance is present at certain low concentrations that qualify for the de minimus exemption. If and when the SNURs are finalized, importers of the affected substances must also certify their compliance the SNURs.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed SNURs through April 26, 2013.

Naming nanoscale materials and other CBI concerns

In the proposed SNURs, EPA identifies nanoengineered carbon compounds based on generic structural terms in order to protect the confidential chemical identities of the substances. EPA uses terms like, for example, “single-walled carbon nanotube” (or “SWCNT”), along with PMN numbers to identify the substances for inclusion in the TSCA Inventory.

The nomenclature developed by EPA is further described in a document, “Material Characterization of Carbon Nanotubes for Molecular Identity (MI) Determination & Nomenclature,” which should be available soon under the docket number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2012–0727. It is likely to be similar to or the same as the identically-named document published with the SNUR finalized in 2011 for a substance named as “multi-walled carbon nanotubes.”

If an intended user is uncertain whether its chemicals are subject to the new SNURs, EPA advises contacting the agency or obtaining a written determination under the bona fide procedures in 40 CFR § 721.11. Since production volume limits and certain other uses detailed in the proposed SNURs may also be claimed as CBI, users may not know whether their intended production volumes constitute a significant new use. The bona fide procedures also apply to such cases. If, after evaluating detailed submissions on the intended use, EPA finds that the user has a bona fide intent to manufacture, produce, or import the substance, the agency will advise whether the intended use would qualify as a significant new use.

France to require mandatory reporting of nanoscale materials in 2013

Nanotechnology:

France will implement a compulsory declaration scheme for the quantities and uses of nanoparticle substances or nanomaterials produced in, distributed in, or imported to France January 1, 2013. Information about material identity, quantity, uses, and users will be required from all companies producing, distributing and importing nanomaterials, and public and private research laboratories. The declaration scheme will be implemented by the Ministries of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing; Economic, Financial and Industrial Affairs; Labor, Employment and Health; and Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Planning. Detailed information on reporting requirements will be published in the Official Journal of the French Republic.

The reporting mandate was published February 19, 2012 in Decree 2012-232 (available in French only) (the December 2011 draft decree is available in English). The decree explains that the purpose of the scheme is to improve knowledge of nanomaterials and their uses, to monitor the channels of use, to improve knowledge of the market and the volumes sold and to collect available information on toxicological and eco-toxicological properties.  Data on 2012 nanomaterial use must be submitted by May 1, 2013.

Reporting requirements affect materials that are at least 50 percent comprised of particles with one or more external dimension between 1 nm and 100 nm. When any such material is produced, imported or distributed in quantities of 100 grams, the user must declare identity of the producer, importer, or distributor; identity of the nanomaterial; quantity of nanomaterial produced, distributed or imported; intended uses, and identifying information about the professional users to whom the material has been distributed. Specifics of the reporting requirements include:

  • Identity of the producer, importer, or distributor:
    • business name, official address, VAT number; and
    •  apacity (manufacturer, importer or distributor) and field of activity.
  • Identity of the nanomaterial:
    • chemical identification of the substance,
    • potential presence of impurities,
    • average particle diameter and particle size distribution,
    • specific surface,
    • surface coating, and
    • surface charge.

 

EPA Conditionally Registers Nanosilver Pesticide and NRDC Files Blocking Lawsuit

FIFRA/Nanotechnology:

EPA’s Conditional Registration

On December 1, 2011, EPA announced that it was conditionally registering a pesticide product containing nanosilver as a new active ingredient. The antimicrobial pesticide product, HeiQ AGS-20, is a silver-based product for use as a preservative for textiles. As a condition of registration, EPA stated that it would require additional data on the product to confirm EPA’s assessment that the product will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment, the general standard for a registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

By way of background, on August 12, 2010, EPA posted a Proposed Conditional Registration to the docket for public comment. EPA received 45 public comments, and responses to these comments along with the decision document to conditionally register the product can be found at www.regulations.gov in Docket ID # EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-1012. A description of the additional studies and timeline when the data must be submitted is also available in the docket.

NRDC’s Lawsuit

In response to the conditional registration, on January 26, 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging EPA’s decision.  NRDC asserts that there is a lack of data concerning the human health and environmental effects of nanosilver.  The lawsuit seeks to limit public exposure to the nanosilver that EPA registered for use in clothing, baby blankets, and many other textiles.

Verdant will soon post a copy of the NRDC’s legal documents.  Check back soon for these documents and for further commentary on this important development for the nanotechnology community.

FDA Regulation of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology:

Readers interested in learning about FDA’s regulation of nanotechnology might want to download the free book available here:  FDA REGULATION OF NANOTECHNOLOGY .  Verdant attorney, Philip Moffat, and many others authored the book over the course of the past several years.  This book is a valuable resource to those wanting to learn about regulation in the United States of foods, cosmetics, drugs, medical devices and many other products that have been enhanced with nanotechnology.  Further information about FDA’s role in the regulation of nanotechnology may be found on the agency’s website, here.  Enjoy!

Pesticides, Nanoscale Materials, and FIFRA

FIFRA/Nanotechnology:

Guest Column: 
Kathryn Brausch & Irene Hantman
Law Clerk & University of Maryland Law Fellow
US EPA Office of Civil Enforcement
 

Readers interested in EPA’s regulation of nanoscale materials may want to know about recently proposed policies under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that would affect the use of nanoscale materials in pesticide products.   

On June 17, 2011, EPA published a Federal Register notice (76 FR 35383), requesting comments on two alternative approaches for obtaining information on nanoscale materials, both active and inert ingredients, used in currently registered pesticide products.  The Agency also requested comments on a proposal that would affect the classification of registration applications for pesticide products containing nanoscale materials.  An overview of these proposals, and a summary of their scientific basis, is set out below.

The Scientific Basis

In the Federal Register notice, the Agency reviews the growing body of scientific evidence concerning the human health and environmental hazards of certain nanoscale materials, some of which are used in pesticide products.  After reviewing the evidence, EPA concludes that it indicates that significant differences exist between many nanoscale materials and their non-nanoscale counterparts.  Although some of the differences have beneficial applications, some of them pose new or increased hazards.  EPA reasons that these potential “new” hazards warrant further regulatory scrutiny.

The Alternatives for Collecting Information

The scientific evidence has led EPA to conclude that collecting information from registrants of existing pesticide products is relevant to the Agency’s statutory obligation.  Under FIFRA, EPA has a statutory obligation to determine whether the registration and use of a pesticide may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or human health.  This finding is required for “each and every pesticide product, regardless of whether another pesticide product with the same or similar composition and use patterns is already registered.”  Thus, according to EPA, the presence of a nanoscale material in a pesticide formulation provides a sufficient basis for the Agency to request additional information that may be used to characterize potential risks that may not have been considered when the pesticide was originally registered.  Although the presence of nanoscale materials is sufficient to justify the proposed requests for information, the Federal Register notice stresses that the presence of a nanoscale material is not, by itself, an indicator of potential adverse effects.  However, EPA will use the information it receives from registrants to assess whether additional data are necessary to support continuing the registration and whether amending a registration is necessary to prevent such adverse effects.    

According to the proposed policy, EPA would use one of the two alternative processes summarized in the bullet-points below to collect the data and other information needed.  The process would apply to both active and inert nanoscale ingredients.  

Under one alternative, EPA would formally announce that ‘reportable’ information required under FIFRA §6(a)(2) includes information on the presence of nanoscale materials. Following the formal policy announcement, any registrant with such information would have 30 days to submit it to EPA.  Specifically, each registrant that knew it had a registered product containing a nanoscale material would provide existing information concerning:  (1) the identity of the affected product; (2) the identity of the nanoscale materials in the product; (3) the size or size distribution of the nanoscale materials; (4) the manufacturing process used to produce them; (5) the size and size distribution of the composite matrix, if any, containing the materials; and (6) the data showing adverse effects at any level of exposure, and the nature and levels of human and environmental exposure.  This alternative has proven controversial because section (6)(a)(2) concerns “adverse effects” reporting – members of the nanotechnology community therefore worry that use of this section would create a stigma for all nanoscale materials used in pesticide products.

Under a second alternative, EPA would issue data call-ins under FIFRA §3(c)(2)(B) to specific groups of registrants. The scope of information collected would potentially be the same under this alternative as it would be under the other one, but registrants would be given 90 days to respond.  EPA could also request the generation of new data and information, which it cannot request under the other alternative.  Moreover, the burden on industry and EPA would increase.  Typically, registrants that receive such data call-in requests are required to respond even when they don’t have the requested information. And EPA would have to track its requests to identify non-responders warranting enforcement. 

Under either alternative, EPA would use the information it received to determine whether additional data needs to be generated or whether a registration should be cancelled or amended to prevent unreasonable adverse effects. 

The New Classification of Applications

EPA also announced a policy affecting the classification of applications seeking to register pesticide products containing nanoscale materials.  Under the new approach, EPA would presume that active or inert nanoscale ingredients are potentially different from non-nanoscale versions of those ingredients that were previously registered.  EPA also would presume that one nanoscale version of an ingredient is potentially different from another, already-registered nanoscale version of the same ingredient.  Based on these presumptions, EPA would initially classify all such applications as applications for “new” ingredients, increasing the application fee, the time EPA has to review the application, and the amount of information it may require.  An applicant could overcome the presumption by proving that the nanoscale version to be registered is sufficiently similar to the registered version or differs only in ways that do not significantly increase the risk of unreasonable adverse effects or require different registration terms or conditions.  If successful, EPA would review the application in a shorter timeframe and allow the applicant to rely on the data from the previous registrant, subject to appropriate compensation where required.

This proposed policy also has significant compliance implications.  Specifically, a company would potentially violate the registration requirements by substituting nanoscale ingredients for non-nanoscale ingredients without first notifying EPA and receiving Agency approval.  Assuming the policy is finalized, it is clear that substitutions occurring after the policy announcement would face a significantly increased risk of having violated the registration requirements.  However, the Federal Register notice is less clear with respect to the legal implications of substitutions that occurred before announcement of the new policy — such substitutions might be considered potential violations of the registration requirements or the section 6(a)(2) reporting requirements.

 * * * *

Once adopted, the policies announced in the above-cited Federal Register notice are likely to be the first of many policies EPA develops to address the use of nanoscale materials in consumer products and other product types.  Accordingly, those using such materials should be prepared for additional inquiries about their use of such materials and their potential effects.

 DISCLAIMER: This work is not a product of the United States Government or the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The views expressed are those of the authors only and do not necessarily represent those of the United States or the US EPA.

 

New EPA Rule for Carbon-Nanotubes

Readers engaged in nanomaterial applications may be interested in EPA’s new Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). Enterprises wishing to manufacture, import, or process MWCNTS are now potentially subject to Significant New Use Notice (SNUN) regulatory procedures which include the submission of ‘appropriate’ health and safety data. This rule is incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations at 40 CFR § 721.10183.

EPA evaluation of MWCNTs, and carbon nanotubes generally, has established that exposure may cause lung effects (pulmonary toxicity, fibrosis, carcinogenicity), immunotoxicity, and mutagenicity. More information on toxicological effects is reported in the Summary of EPA’s Current Assessments of Health and Environmental Effects of Carbon Nanotubes (available in the MWCNT SNUR Docket).

EPA recommends SNUNs provide detailed information on the following:

  • Human exposure and environmental release that may result from the significant new use of the chemical substance.
  • Potential benefits of the chemical substance.
  • Information on risks posed by the chemical substance compared to risks posed by potential substitutes.

EPA notes that upon review of a SNUN, the Agency has the authority to require additional testing. Any manufacturers, importers, or processors who intend to conduct testing or submit a SNUN are encouraged to contact EPA to determine ‘appropriate’ testing methods. Substantial detail about this and other governing TSCA provisions is provided in the FR notice (76 FR 26186 (available in the MWCNT SNUR Docket)). More information on SNUN requirements generally is available here and information on requirements for test data is available from EPA and the ACC.

This SNUR is specific to MWCNTs of a specific structure. However, confidentiality claims preclude a more detailed description of the identity of this MWCNT. To determine whether a specific CNT, MWCNT, or single-wall carbon nanotube is on the TSCA Inventory, manufacturers should submit a bona fide intent to manufacture or import to EPA.

Exempt from the rule are MWCNTs that are 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.