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EPA’s New Action Plan for Certain Dyes

September 28th, 2010

EPA Action Plan for Certain Dyes

On August 18th, 2010, the EPA announced the release of new action plans to review the potential health risks of certain compounds. These action plans were developed “based on [the chemicals’] presence in humans; persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) characteristics; [and] use in consumer products, production volume or other similar factors”1. These action plans may result in new use rules, new reporting limits, or banning or limiting their production and use.

The first of these action plans, and the only to be discussed in this current edition of Lab Science News, relates to azo dyes derived from benzidene and benzidene congeners. In the US, these compounds are used primarily in textiles, inks, paper, paints, and by the pharmaceutical and food industries. They are also used in inkjet and laser printers and as biological stains and reagents in laboratories. It is of note that they are already banned in the European Union.

The carcinogenic properties of the potential degradation compounds of these dyes pose the biggest health concern due to human exposure via textiles. According to the EPA’s Action Plan document for these compounds, their use in the US has steadily dwindled because most finished textiles now come from other countries that may or may not regulate dyes.

At present there are 4 benzidines dyes and 44 benzidine congener-based dyes being reviewed under this action plan.

Subsequent editions of the Lab Science News will cover the other two groups of compounds of concern, Nonylphenol (NP) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs), and Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

Additional information may be found on the EPA’s website, accessible at

1 EPA. Action Plans: Dyes Derived from Benzidene and Its Congeners, page 1, Section II; Nonylphenol (NP) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) Action Plan, page 1, Section II; and Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Action Plan, page 1, Section II, August 2010.

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