New Rulemaking Announced by Maine DEP

Phthalates as Priority Chemicals – July 9, 2014

Yesterday, Maine DEP announced that it will consider listing four phthalates (pronounced THAY-lates) as “priority chemicals” under 38 M.R.S.A. § 1694.  The phthalates, (di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP)), are currently designated as “chemicals of high concern” and would be shifted to “priority chemicals” under the draft rule.  Maine currently has five chemicals designated as priority status: BPA, NP/NPE, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury.  

Phthalates are used as plastic softeners, fragrances, and cosmetic lubricants in items such as personal accessories, footwear, building products, furniture, cleaning products, interior furnishings, and office/school supplies.  Maine’s draft rule targets the intentional use of phthalates. (Errant quantities of phthalates are commonly found in items such as food and water.)  When quantities exceed de minimis limits, manufacturers (and distributors) must report their presence to the Department.  They must also indicate how many units have been sold within the State, explain the chemical’s function within the product, and justify its use if it is included in a child’s product.  A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 29 at 1:00 p.m. in Augusta.  The comment period will close on September 29.