In a recent science brief regarding surface transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that while it is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, “the risk is generally considered to be low.” The principal mode by which people are infected by SARS-CoV-2 is through exposure to respiratory droplets in the air that contain the virus.
In an April 7 Agencywide memorandum, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) Administrator Michael Regan recommitted EPA to advancing environmental justice initiatives. Administrator Regan stated that it would be one of his “top priorities” to address environmental effects on communities whose residents are predominately of color, Indigenous, or low-income.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved, for the first time, a pesticide product for long-lasting efficacy claims (also called residual efficacy) against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Unlike standard disinfectants, “residual efficacy” products are continually efficacious against viruses or other microorganisms over a period of hours (or even months) rather than just at point of use. Based on efficacy data, EPA expects the product approved last week—antimicrobial copper alloy that contains at least 95.6% copper—to eliminate 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 within two hours, on an ongoing basis. However, EPA has only approved antimicrobial copper alloy for supplemental residual efficacy claims; these are products that do not meet EPA’s standards for a disinfectant, but are intended to supplement the use of EPA’s List N disinfectants. (List N contains those products EPA has approved for limited claims of efficacy against the novel coronavirus.) Accordingly, antimicrobial copper alloy has been added to EPA’s List N Appendix, which catalogues those products approved for supplemental residual efficacy claims.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water has published a new interim strategy memorandum for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued by EPA. The memorandum includes recommendations generated by a cross-agency workgroup, which conducted a review of existing Clean Water Act (CWA) section 402 NPDES permitting authorities to determine where and how currently unregulated contaminants like PFAS may fit into the permitting process. Under the CWA, the NPDES permit program regulates point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Currently, there are no CWA water quality criteria or effluent guidelines for PFAS, an umbrella category of thousands of synthetic chemicals historically used in industrial manufacturing processes for their flame-resistant and nonstick properties.
After a lengthy public comment review period, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a Draft Supplemental Analysis to the Draft Risk Evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane. EPA’s underlying Draft Risk Evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane was released in June 2019. These documents have been prepared as required by the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century Act amendments to federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Those amendments direct EPA to conduct risk evaluations of certain chemicals to determine whether the substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, under the conditions of use, without consideration of costs or other nonrisk factors, while using the best available science and ensuring that decisions are based on the weight of scientific evidence. EPA identified 1,4-dioxane in December 2016 as one of the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluations under the TSCA amendments.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) has finalized its enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (“MCL”) drinking water standards for a group of six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) after proposing similar regulatory provisions in December 2019. Under the new regulations, the MCL is set at 20 nanograms per liter (i.e., 20 parts per trillion) for the sum of the concentrations of these six distinct PFAS contaminants: perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”); perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”); perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (“PFHxS”); perfluorononanoic acid (“PFNA”); perfluoroheptanoic acid (“PFHpA”); and perfluorodecanoic acid (“PFDA”). No later than December 31, 2023, and every three years thereafter, MassDEP will review the science and state of PFAS analytical/treatment methodologies to determine whether these drinking water standards should be amended.
On September 23, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20, expressing the goals that:
- by 2035, 100% of all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission vehicles (“ZEV”);
- by 2045, 100% of all medium-and heavy-duty vehicles in the state be zero-emission for all operations where feasible (and the same goal for drayage trucks by 2035); and
- by 2035, the State will transition to 100% zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment (where feasible).
On February 18, 2020, a group of states and a national trade union filed separate petitions seeking administrative reconsideration of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA or Agency) recently finalized Clean Air Act Risk Management Plan (RMP) reconsideration rule (the Reconsideration Rule). The Reconsideration Rule became effective on December 19, 2019, and rescinds numerous provisions of the Obama administration’s January 2017 amendments to EPA’s RMP regulations under the Clean Air Act (the Amendments).