Regulatory action is being taken to protect the public from seven ethylene glycol ethers (glymes chemicals) that have been linked to health effects including birth defects and blood toxicity.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that it had issued a significant new use rule (SNUR) which will require manufacturers and importers to notify the EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in consumer products.

This advance notification is intended to give the agency the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity.

In addition, one of the more toxic of these chemicals, ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (monoglyme), has been added to the Work Plan for Chemical Assessments because of its toxicity and use in certain commercial and consumer products. The EPA will conduct a risk assessment for this chemical and determine if further risk reduction action is necessary.

Glymes have a variety of industrial applications, and are often used in solvents and as components of consumer products including inks, paint, coatings, adhesives, graffiti removers and soldering compounds.

"Today's action is part of our continuing efforts to help ensure that chemicals in products we use every day are safe for the American public," commented Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. "Finalizing this action could prevent an increase in the use of these chemicals and reduce human exposure through ingestion and inhalation."

SNURs ensure that once a chemical has been phased out or taken off the market for certain uses, no use can resume without notification and official review, the EPA explained.

The agency expects the rule to be published in the Federal Register next week.