ExxonMobil, a leading producer of phthalates has raised concerns the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) proposal to ban five additional phthalates from toys may exceed the agency’s authority.
ExxonMobil and CPSC held four meetings in July that focused on the commission’s proposal to make permanent the interim ban on diisononyl phthalate (DINP). The permanent ban was based on the recommendations of the CPSC’s Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on July 24, 2014.
But ExxonMobil contends that the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) does not require the CPSC to follow CHAP recommendations – in fact, the CHAP must be regarded as having a limited, advisory role.
The company also argues that rigid adherence to the recommendations does not provide sufficient opportunity for public comment, as required by law.
The chemical giant asserts that the CHAP’s failure to consider relevant data could make a resulting CPSC regulation “arbitrary and capricious.” The company also notes that the Federal Hazardous Substance Act (FHSA) only permits the banning of a mixture of substances, not the banning of a single substance, based on its cumulative risk assessment.
In public comments submitted by ExxonMobil earlier this year, the cumulative risk assess-ment, conducted by the CHAP, examined the effects of DINP together with four other phthalates, three of which – DEHP, DBP and BBP – are already banned in toys.
“It is arbitrary and capricious to ban a chemical that contributes a fraction of a fraction of an overall risk, indicated by a questionable methodology that uses a likely irrelevant endpoint and outdated data,” said ExxonMobil in its written comments.
“Without DEHP, DBP and BBP, the [hazard index] clearly is less than 1, so that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from use of DINP in children’s products.”
“DINP has previously been proven safe for its intended use by the CPSC itself, as well as other US government bodies and those in Europe and Australia,” said a company spokesperson. “The science is clear.”
However, since 2005, DINP has been one of a group of phthalates, banned in the EU from toys and child care articles that children
can place in their mouth. Following a review, the European Commission decided to maintain the ban last year.
The Exxonmobil spokesperson did not indicate whether the company will be taking legal action against the CPSC.
The company’s comments are part of wider criticism, by the US chemicals industry, of measures to restrict DINP and other phthalates.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC), for example, has challenged California’s Proposition 65 listing of DINP as a substance known to the state to cause cancer. The organization also lost when it challenged the Proposition 65 listing of Bisphenol A in 2013.
The CPSC released bio-monitoring data that served as the basis for CHAP’s recommendations on June 23. The bio-monitoring studies reported exposures to phthalates to women of reproductive age.
The CPSC report says women’s exposure to DINP is increasing.
he agency declined to comment on legal issues, raised during an ongoing rulemaking.
CPSC said it is working to publish its final rule by the end of September.