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After Extensive Analysis, EPA Removes Methyl Ethyl Ketone from List of Toxic Air Pollutants

Release Date: 12/14/2005
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Contact: John Millett, 202-564-4355 /

(12/14/05) After an extensive, multi-year scientific and technical review, EPA has removed methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) from the Clean Air Act list of toxic air pollutants. Declassifying MEK will not compromise public health and may even pose a public health benefit as companies substitute MEK for more toxic or environmentally damaging chemicals. Although removed from the list of toxic air pollutants, MEK remains regulated as a volatile organic compound.

Delisting a toxic air pollutant is a rigorous process that involves in-depth analyses and independent scientific peer review to demonstrate there are adequate data to determine that emissions may not reasonably be anticipated to cause adverse health effects. Public comment is also an important component in the decision whether to delist a toxic air pollutant. EPA has removed three other toxic air pollutants from the list: ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (2004), long chain glycol ethers (2000), and caprolactam (1996). EPA denied a petition to delist methanol in 2001.

MEK is used as a solvent in the surface coatings industry, specifically in manufacturing vinyl lacquers, some lacquers and acrylics. Industries also use MEK for producing adhesives, magnetic tapes, printing inks, degreasing and cleaning fluids, as a dewaxing agent for lubricating oils and as an intermediate in the production of antioxidants and perfumes.

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