EPA proposes additive ban that could directly affect lubes producers

American regulator reveals document proposing total ban on four of five additives under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Posted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the online and printed submission focuses on five specific chemicals: decabromodiphenyl ether; phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1), also known as tris(4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate; 2,4,6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol; hexachlorobutadiene.  Only the last of these has been excluded from the proposed ban, based on its current uses as evaluated by the EVA.

Additives in a laboratoryThe proposed ban, which would “restrict or prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce for many uses” of the four additives, is subject to a 60 consultation period which will start once the full proposal document has been published in the US Federal Register.

The reasons for the proposal are based on toxicology which show they are “persistent, bioaccumlative and toxic” under current chemical regulations.  In essence, this means they are either, not biodegradable, or show build-up in animals (including humans) especially if they consume fish.

One chemical in particular, 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol, could impact the lubricants industry as a whole where it is used as an additive, although only one US company is actually reported by the EPA to manufacture or import it.  The proposal also seeks a ban on phenol - or PIP (3:1) – but has excluded its use in aviation hydraulic fluids, lubricants grease and replacement auto parts.