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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making moves to block the import of potentially toxic perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are used in many manufacturing and industrial applications. The agency announced this week that it had finalized a rule that would restrict the use of such chemicals in the country.

Under the new rule, companies will be required to report to the EPA all uses and applications of these chemicals in U.S. and foreign products. The reason for this restriction is the fact that perfluorinated chemicals accumulate in the environment and in living organisms and are very difficult to remove, causing a risk to public health and the ecological balance in the United States, the EPA stated.

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The rule, known as the Significant New Use Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act, requires companies that intend to manufacture, import or process long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic chemicals to inform the EPA at least 90 days before the planned start of the activity, so that the agency can review it.

The use of perfluorinated chemicals is already subject to a voluntary phase-out agreement among U.S. chemical companies. Although their use is declining, it is possible that they could still enter the country through imported carpets, the agency explained. The new rule will give the EPA the power to take action to prevent the import of perfluorinated chemicals, if necessary, said Jim Jones, the agency's assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.