Energy & Environment

EPA adds new air pollutant to hazardous list for first time in 30 years

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For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adding a new pollutant to a list of those it has deemed unsafe to breathe. 

It added a chemical called 1-bromopropane (1-BP), normally used in dry cleaning, stain removers, adhesives and cleaners, to its list of hazardous air pollutants. 

The listing, which was announced in a Wednesday Federal Register notice, represents the first time the agency added a substance to the list since it was created by Congress in 1990.  

The move is expected to require industry to adhere to rules that regulate emissions of other hazardous air pollutants, sometimes called HAPs. 

In 2020, the EPA found that 1-BP presented “unreasonable” risks for consumers, bystanders and workers for most consumer and commercial uses of the substance. 

It cited developmental issues from short-term exposure and both developmental issues and cancer from long-term exposure. 

Environmental groups, which sued the EPA to get it to add 1-BP to the list, say the addition of the chemical will help protect communities. 

“The listing of 1-BP is a historic first: the first new HAP in over thirty years, ensuring that communities across the country will be protected from the widespread use of this toxic chemical,” Earthjustice attorney Tosh Sagar said in a statement. 

Sagar argued that the latest move should be just a start, saying that the agency should specifically look at chemicals belonging to a class known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, going forward. These chemicals have become widespread in the U.S. and certain types have been linked to kidney and testicular cancer.

Industry, for its part, has argued against adding 1-BP to the list of hazardous air pollutants.

“Regulation of 1-BP as a HAP is unnecessary, as 1-BP products will likely be totally off the market and out of use in the dry cleaning industry before the regulations are published,” said an August comment from a company called Enviro Tech International. 

According to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, in 2020, 68 facilities emitted 1-BP, releasing more than 800,000 pounds of the substance into the air.

Tags 1-bromopropane Environmental Protection Agency EPA Hazardous air pollutants pollutants Pollution

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