The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Colour Index Pigment Violet 29 (PV29) presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health.
EPA announced Sept. 6 that PV29, as a whole chemical substance, is a risk to workers and the public when evaluated under its conditions of use.
2021 promise of restrictions fulfilled
This chemical is one of 10 EPA wrapped up assessments for in 2021. None of them were banned but restrictions on some were promised. That promise is now being fulfilled for PV29.
PV29 is used as an intermediate:
- to create or adjust color of other perylene pigments
- in paints and coatings in the automobile industry
- in plastic and rubber products in automobiles and industrial carpeting
- in merchant ink for commercial printing, and
- in consumer watercolors.
Long-term exposure to PV29 “can cause lung toxicity effects known as alveolar hyperplasia, or an adverse increase in the number of cells in the lungs where oxygen transfer occurs.”
10 of 14 conditions of use led to determination
According to law firm Bergeson & Campbell, 10 of the 14 conditions of use of PV29 led to the EPA determination of unreasonable risk.
Those ten conditions of use include exposures from:
- manufacturing (including import)
- certain industrial/commercial uses, and
The four conditions that didn’t factor into the unreasonable risk determination include:
- distribution in commerce
- industrial and commercial uses in finished plastic and rubber products for automobile plastics and industrial carpeting, and
- consumer use in professional-quality watercolor and acrylic artist paint.
Exposure risks across chemical’s entire lifecycle
EPA said it used the whole chemical risk determination approach for PV29 in part because there are exposure risks throughout the chemical’s lifecycle and adverse health effects for “occupational non-users and workers who handle PV29 as part of their jobs.”
In July, EPA announced it was taking a whole chemical approach to future regulation of chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
This is because EPA leadership believes employees who work with chemicals frequently don’t wear PPE, and that too many employers don’t provide PPE or train staffers on proper PPE usage and maintenance.
However, that doesn’t mean EPA always assumes there are health or safety violations, rather its assumption reflects its recognition that unreasonable risk may exist:
- for subpopulations of workers that may be highly exposed because they are not covered by OSHA standards
- because OSHA’s chemical-specific permissible exposure limits (PEL) are described by OSHA as being outdated and inadequate for ensuring protection of worker health, or
- because OSHA has not issued a chemical-specific PEL.
Risk management incoming
The next step is for EPA to move forward with a risk management for workers and others who handle PV29. The agency’s focus in the risk management will be on the conditions of use that drive the unreasonable risk.
However, Bergeson & Campbell notes that EPA could regulate upstream activities, such as processing or distribution, to address downstream issues, such as consumer uses, even if the upstream activities don’t drive the unreasonable risk.