Today, US EPA issued a Federal Register notice stating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) registration requirements are "potentially applicable to carbon nanotubes."  EPA confirmed its position the CNTs are "chemical substances distinct from graphite or other allotropes of carbon listed on the TSCA inventory."  The bottom line is stated succinctly by EPA: "Many CNTs may therefore be new chemicals under TSCA Section 5."

Consequently, those companies that use or import CNTs will have to ensure such materials are registered on the TSCA inventory before manufacturing commences or importation occurs.  To determine if a particular type of CNT is already on the Inventory, manufacturers and importers can submit a bona fide intent to manufacture or import letter to EPA under 40 CFR 720.25, and EPA will respond as to the particular listing.  Further, "sometime after March 1, 2009, EPA anticipates focusing its compliance monitoring efforts to determine if companies are complying with TSCA section 5 requirements for carbon nanotubes."

The message here couldn’t be more clear: if you are manufacturing or using CNTs, you must comply with TSCA.  EPA admits that some of the confusion over listing/not listing may be due to prior communications, but this notice removes all confusion.  EPA indicates that it is reviewing "several" premanufacture notices for carbon nanotubes, so it is likely many of the "common" CNTs will be registered soon.  In the meantime, expect CNTs to be treated as "new" chemicals under TSCA.