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EPA’s Significant New
Alternatives Policy Program (SNAP)

N-propyl bromide Decisions

Vapor Degreaser Modern Vapor Degreaser

This fact sheet summarizes an EPA regulatory action concerning phase-out of ozone depleting substances (ODSs):

On May 30, 2007 EPA listed N-propyl bromide (nPB) as an acceptable alternative to ODSs in metal, precision, and electronics cleaning.  nPB is a non-flammable, brominated solvent. It has solvency characteristics somewhat similar to that to the late-lamented 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), a compound that was phased out of production in the mid-1990’s because it destroys stratospheric ozone (upper ozone, good ozone – not smog producing ozone).

The nPB determination was made as part of EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.  The SNAP program implements Section 612 of the Clean Air Act, which requires EPA to evaluate replacements for ODSs to ensure they minimize risk to human health and the environment.  A number of substances – including methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, and trichloroethylene – have previously been listed as acceptable under the SNAP program.  A comprehensive list of replacements is available on EPA’s SNAP web site.

Nearly four years after being proposed for SNAP approval, the EPA found n-propyl bromide (nPB) to be an acceptable substitute when used as a solvent in industrial equipment for metals cleaning, electronics cleaning, or precision cleaning.  N-propyl bromide has become a popular solvent for use in vapor degreasers (Figure 1).  Concerns over employee exposure and the possible health concerns of working with n-propyl bromide is one of the reasons that have resulted in the long road to a proposed SNAP listing for this solvent.  Until the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develops a mandatory workplace exposure standard, the EPA recommends that users of n-propyl bromide limit their exposure to 25 parts per million (ppm) over an eight-hour time-weighted average.

EPA’s decision to list nPB as acceptable in cleaning applications applies to use of the solvent in metal, precision, and electronics cleaning equipment, and does not apply to its use in hand wipe and aerosol cleaners. Also, the decision also does not apply to drycleaning applications.

As with any aggressive solvent, you should use nPB prudently to minimize worker and community exposure; and you should educate your employees in appropriate chemical management.  Associated solvent cleaning equipment should be well-controlled and maintained.

More Resources

Fact Sheet on May, 2007 Proposed and Final Rules on n-Propyl Bromide.  Commonly asked questions about EPA’s regulations on the appropriate use of nPB, such as how EPA is proposing that nPB may be used, exposure levels EPA considers potentially protective, and more.

Development of Safer Cleaning Alternatives in the Aerospace, Printing, and Coating Industries (PDF, 60 pp., 3.8MB). This report by the Institute for Research and Technical Assistance describes successful, environmentally-friendly, cost-effective cleaners that can remove adhesives, coatings, and inks.

Questions and Answers about 2007 Final and Proposed Regulations for n-Propyl Bromide (nPB).

Questions & Answers about Solvent Substitutes

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