The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new rules intended to protect the public from certain chemicals.

According to the agency, the substances covered by the latest Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) have the potential to cause a range of health effects from cancer to reproductive and developmental harm in humans and aquatic organisms.

This action addresses:

• Most uses of certain benzidine-based dyes which can be used in textiles, paints and inks and can be converted in the body into a chemical that is known to cause cancer;

• Most uses of DnPP, a phthalate, which can be used in PVC plastics and shown to cause developmental and/or reproductive effects in laboratory animals; and

• Alkanes C 12-13, chloro, a short-chain chlorinated paraffin (SCCP), which can be used as industrial lubricants and are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic to aquatic organisms at low concentrations and can be transported globally in the environment.

The latest rules add nine benzidine-based dyes to an existing SNUR, closing a loophole to ensure that these chemicals and products containing them, such as clothing, cannot be imported without EPA review and possible restriction.

Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, said that the agency was committed to protecting the public from exposure to harmful chemicals used in domestic and imported products.

"There must be a level playing field for U.S. businesses — which is why we're targeting harmful chemicals no longer used in the U.S. that find their way into commerce, sometimes through imported products. This final action will give EPA the opportunity to restrict or limit any new uses of these chemicals, including imported goods with these chemicals," he explained.