EPA Considers Banning Solvent N-Methylpyrrolidone

June 5, 2024
The proposed rule would limit the concentration of NMP allowed in some consumer and commercial products, establish strict workplace health controls for many uses of NMP and ban some uses.

On June 5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that would protect workers and consumers from exposure to the solvent n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP). 

According to the agency, a 2020 risk evaluation found this chemical causes serious health effects, including miscarriages and reduced fertility, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, immune system and nervous system. 

If finalized, the rule would limit the concentration of NMP allowed in some consumer and commercial products, establish strict workplace health controls for many uses of NMP and ban some uses that cannot safely continue and for which alternatives already exist.

NMP is used to manufacture and produce many electronics, including lithium-ion batteries, polymers, agricultural chemicals and petrochemical products. NMP also has numerous other industrial, commercial and consumer applications, including adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, paint removers, lubricants, automotive care products, degreasers, cleaning- and furniture-care products.

To protect consumers from exposure to NMP in glues and adhesives, the EPA is proposing a concentration limit of no greater than 45%, as well as container size limits and labeling requirements for other types of consumer products so they are not used in commercial settings where their more frequent use could pose risks.

The EPA is also proposing an NMP Workplace Chemical Protection Program (WCPP) to protect workers from exposure to NMP for nearly all industrial and commercial uses. The WCPP would include requirements to prevent direct skin contact and would go into effect a year after the rule is finalized. 

According to the EPA’s press release, the agency expects that many sectors, including the semiconductor and lithium-ion battery manufacturing sectors, have already implemented the types of exposure controls the EPA would require. For several other occupational conditions of use (such as its use in paints, adhesives, inks, coatings and soldering materials), the EPA will require prescriptive workplace controls, including concentration limits and use of personal protective equipment.

The EPA is proposing to ban the commercial use of NMP in products used for automotive care, cleaning and degreasing, metal, and cleaning and furniture care because it deems their use unsafe. The EPA is also proposing to ban the use of NMP in antifreeze, de-icing products, and lubricants because it believes these uses have already ceased. 

The proposed rule would also ban commercial use in fertilizers and other agricultural chemical manufacturing processes because the EPA does not currently have information demonstrating that they could be safely continued. For these uses, the agency believes such information may exist and expects to conduct proactive outreach during the comment period to better understand industrial practices associated with them.

Members of the public and stakeholders are encouraged to read and comment on the proposed rule. The EPA has engaged with industry stakeholders and will continue to do so. The agency is especially interested in hearing perspectives from the public on the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed requirements for worker protections, including from workers and entities that would be required to implement the workplace protections or from entities that believe they can feasibly implement the workplace protections.

EPA will accept public comments for 45 days following publication in the Federal Register via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-0744.

The EPA will host a webinar on June 20 at 1 p.m. ET to provide an overview of the proposal. Register to attend.

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