Ski wax is regulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under TSCA, including factory wax that is used on skis and boards to keep them healthy and fresh in the warehouse. If your company imports a factory ski wax or skis and snowboards that have a factory wax applied to them, here’s what you need to know: most exemptions from TSCA’s listing and notification requirements won’t apply to the wax itself. Because a factory wax comes off the ski with time, the TSCA exemption for ingredients that aren’t designed to be released from an imported article (in this case, the ski or board) is not available to the importers of these products. If you import pre-waxed skis and snowboards there are steps you can take to ensure product compliance with TSCA. These are explained below.
TSCA was updated by Congress in 2016 in part to make sure that EPA conducts safety reviews for all of the chemicals that companies are putting into products used by consumers. First and foremost, this means that a ski wax cannot be made in the US or brought into the country – even as part of a ski – unless each ingredient is either already on EPA’s list of existing chemicals known as the “TSCA Inventory”, reviewed by EPA and placed on this list, or exempt.
Importers subject to TSCA are responsible for compliance to the same degree as a US chemical manufacturer. This obligation extends to the last 5 years of imports, and the law does not apply just to toxic substances – it applies to safe ones, too. Therefore, EPA expects every importer to account for the TSCA status of 100% of the ingredients in a ski wax coming into the US. While companies who purchase factory ski wax here are not held to this same high standard (for example, when a wax is made here or imported by someone else) it is a best practice to ask for a TSCA compliance certification from US suppliers. If you are the importer of the wax or the pre-waxed ski, the obligation of compliance falls on you.
Unfortunately, TSCA compliance is not guaranteed by good standing under the European Union REACH Regulation. The REACH exemption from notification for small quantities (<1,000 kg) isn’t available, and EPA’s low volume exemption (LVE) requires agency approval for new chemicals manufactured or imported at quantities of <10,000 kg/yr.
Here are 5 basic steps that importers should take to verify that the wax on your imported skis complies with TSCA:
- Ask your supplier to disclose the identity of 100% of their ski wax ingredients to you. A ski wax commonly includes a hydrocarbon base (paraffin, microcrystalline or synthetic branched), rosins, solvents, fats, an electrostatic/dirt repellant, a speed additive (fluoro- or non-fluoro), a colorant (waxes are color coded), and a fragrance. Some of these ingredients are mixtures of chemicals in their own right. The information you should ask for is their Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CASRN) and Chemical Abstracts (CA) Index Name for each ingredient. You will need this basic information to conduct your own search of the public TSCA Inventory. For proprietary ingredients, non-disclosure agreements or third party assistance will be needed.
- Verify the accuracy of the information you’ve been given. You need to make sure that the names associated with the CASRNs your supplier provides agree with your understanding of the product chemistry and with US-centric rules for naming these ingredients. This step requires a high degree of specificity, and it is advisable to seek out an expert in this area.
- Search the public TSCA Inventory to see if the CASRNs are listed and whether an ingredient is subject to restrictions. Be cognizant of your timing, under the law you should know the status of your products when you import because you have to sign a certification each time you import that your products are compliant. If you think you have a problem, seek legal counsel so that you can get appropriate advice on what to do.
- Generate and keep good records of your compliance assessment. This includes maintaining supplier safety data sheets (SDSs), copies of TSCA import certification records, formulation lists that document the TSCA Inventory status, and exemption determinations if applicable. While you may need to work with EU suppliers, records of TSCA compliance should be kept in a central location in the United States and be sufficient to pass an EPA inspection. Keep in mind that SDSs rarely list 100% of the ingredients in a wax product.
- Ask for a written supplier certification. Oral communications or informal emails are generally not sufficient to establish TSCA compliance. In addition to the above, companies should obtain documentation in the form of assurance letters from foreign suppliers that certify their wax is TSCA compliant.
Companies that follow these steps should generally find that basic paraffin wax formulations will consist of ingredients that have been listed on the TSCA Inventory for some time. By comparison, be prepared to find that establishing the TSCA status of race-prepped, competitive skis that use a factory wax with newer, fluoro- ingredients may be more challenging. EPA has made it a priority to get companies, including importers and manufacturers of ski wax who are members of SIA, to stop making and using long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids with eight or more carbons, and there are fewer LVEs and Inventory listings for shorter-chain replacements. SIA recently held an educational webinar on this topic on September 26, 2019.
For more information, please view our most recent webinar, The U.S. EPA, PFAS, and the Ski Wax Industry: What You Need to Know please visit: https://snowsports.org/education/#webinars
For more information, please contact: [email protected]