ETAD Raises Concerns Over EPA's Focus on Dyes

While the North American members of a group representing dye manufacturers support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to strengthen U.S. chemical safety laws, they question the agency’s recent decision to examine the potential health risk of benzidine dyes.

On Aug. 18, the EPA announced chemical action plans to address the possible “risks associated with chemicals commonly used in this country,” including benzidine dyes. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

The Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers (ETAD) of North America, an affiliate of SOCMA, challenged EPA’s decision to single out benzidine dyes since the agency confirmed nearly 15 years ago that the substances are no longer in U.S. commerce. In the mid-1990s, ETAD worked closely with the agency to phase out benzidine dyes by way of a Significant New Use Rule under TSCA.

“In view of the absence of benzidine dyes from commerce except for small quantities used for special diagnostic purposes, it is not likely for there to be any significant human exposure to these substances in the U.S.,” explained C. Tucker Helmes, a senior director at SOCMA and executive director of ETAD North America.  “In light of the circumstances, we question if it’s worth the expenditure of scarce government and industry resources to implement this plan.”

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