This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment and peer review a draft risk assessment for n-propyl bromide (nPB) used in spray adhesives, dry cleaning (including spot cleaners) applications, and vapor degreasing. In addition, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued its own draft criteria document for worker exposure to nPB, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) examined the health hazards of nPB associated with different worker exposure durations. With increasing regulations on the use of nPB in vapor degreasing, it’s time to switch to an nPB drop-in replacement like 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids – a family of safer, sustainable solvents.
The draft assessment of nPB, also known as 1-bromopropane (1-BP), was conducted as part of the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Work Plan assessment effort. According to the assessment, the chemical showed acute risks to women of childbearing age from adverse developmental effects. Other non-cancer and cancer health risks were identified for workers with repeated and chronic exposures, including neurotoxicity, kidney, liver, and reproductive toxicity, and lung cancer.
The U.S. EPA is seeking public comment of this draft assessment (EPA-HQ-OPPT-2015-0084) for 60 days and it will be peer reviewed by the EPA’s Chemical Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) in the spring of 2016. Learn more about the U.S. EPA’s nPB draft Risk Assessment and other Work Plan Chemicals.
According to the EPA's news release, NIOSH) has also issued a draft criteria document for worker exposure to nPB, and the ATSDR examined the hazards of nPB associated with different exposure durations. While each agency’s review has a distinct focus based on their mandates, they draw similar conclusions about the health hazards of nPB. The EPA, NIOSH, and ATSDR will continue to coordinate in addressing concerns associated with this chemical.
The EPA, NIOSH and ATSDR are not the first to target nPB for worker health risks. Since 2012, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has listed nPB as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) and now aims to further restrict its use by adding it as a candidate for inclusion in the SVHC Authorization List (Annex XIV) under REACH. In 2014, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) published new threshold limit value - time weighted average (TLV - TWA) exposure guidelines, which significantly lowered the threshold for nPB to 0.1 parts per million (ppm). For some industrial applications like vapor degreasing, nPB may no longer be a viable solution due to worker exposures potentially exceeding the threshold.
With increasing regulations on the use of nPB in vapor degreasing, it’s time to switch to safer, sustainable solvents like 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids. With high cleaning performance in vapor degreasing systems, Novec fluids offer excellent materials compatibility, low toxicity and low global warming potentials. These non-flammable Novec fluids could be exactly the vapor degreasing solution you need. Check out more information on replacing nPB with Novec fluids.
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