WASHINGTON - A new EPA final rule published March 29 eliminates and narrows several of the categorical exclusions for manufacture of polymers under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TOSCA), officials of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. said. Most notably, the rule frees from ``premanufacturing notification'' many categories of polymers, thereby cutting the time for putting many new polymers on the market.
``This is perhaps the most important regulation change to hit the polymer industry in 10 years or more,'' said Verne Rhodes, manager of product safety for Monsanto Co. in St. Louis, and chairman of SPI's Occupational Health and Environmental Issues Committee.
The previous regulation required extensive notification paperwork for polymers havingmany types of reactive groups, ``even though there was essentially no danger to human health or the environment in their manufacture or use,'' according to Rhodes.
``This rule essentially allows industry to make the same judgments that EPA has previously made and eliminates notification on substances that EPA would have cleared without comment anyway.
``The rule change will save millions of dollars in time and paperwork, at no expense to public safety,'' Rhodes said.
The rule eliminates an application process, a required 21-day waiting period prior to manufacture and a $2,500 filing fee. The new rule becomes effective May 30.
John B. Dubeck, attorney with Keller & Heckman law firm in Washington, said, ``The scope of the new exemption closely tracks recommendations that SPI proposed to EPA in June 1990.''
The new rule is the latest SPI-favored modification to the 1976 law, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency to generate an inventory of chemical substances in commerce.
An earlier modification in TOSCA exemptions, in November 1984, cut the waiting period from 90 days to 21 days.