EPA Working to Enhance Safety in Bicycle Manufacturing


By Charles Pekow — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is actively working to enhance bicycle safety not only for riders but also in the manufacturing of bicycle and parts. The EPA has proposed restrictions on work exposure to toxins in assembly plants, specifically targeting decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) and phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)), under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The deadline for comments on these proposed regulations is January 8, and more information can be found at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2023-11-24/html/2023-25714.htm

Workers dealing with these substances, commonly used as flame retardants and anti-wear additives in lubricants, would be required to wear protective gear. According to the EPA’s draft economic analysis, the proposal could impact up to 378 manufacturers of new and replacement bicycle and motorcycle parts in the USA, with 366 of them classified as small businesses by the Small Business Administration. The EPA noted that workers exposed to the chemicals typically wear gloves but do not use respirators.

Additionally, the EPA is taking proactive measures “proposing to address the unreasonable risk of injury to human health presented by trichloroethylene (TCE),” a solvent and lubricant. The EPA aims to ban the substance in the manufacturing and importation of bicycles and parts within a year, with temporary exceptions in workplaces under strict controls.

“The EPA would also like to emphasize that alternatives are available for the vast majority of TCE uses. While some manufacturers may be required to reformulate their products to eliminate TCE if they haven’t already, EPA emphasizes that TCE is highly toxic and that transitioning away from this chemical will help protect human health and the environment,” EPA Environmental Protection Specialist Simon Regenold wrote in an email.

The full proposal can be accessed at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2023-10-31/html/2023-23010.htm


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