Federal and state lawmakers continue to advance legislative efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS have been used in a variety of consumer products and industrial processes and are often recognized for use in nonstick cookware, waterproof apparel, and fire-fighting foam. The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to pass legislation that would further regulate PFAS. In a bipartisan vote of 241 to 183, lawmakers advanced HR 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, which would impose federal requirements to address PFAS under many environmental statutes, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.
On June 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a rule adding three more per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals requiring toxic chemicals release reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Pollution Prevention Act, that is, Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The PFAS added are perfluorooctyl iodide, potassium perfluorooctanoate and silver(I) perfluorooctanoate, which must be included in TRI reports due July 1, 2022.
On Tuesday, April 13, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, both D-Mich., introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2021, seeking further regulation of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). Most notably, the bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to address two PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS — through a number of regulatory provisions: designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and requiring EPA to establish national drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS. (more…)
Earlier this month, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed listing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as a carcinogen under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65. Under Proposition 65, OEHHA maintains a list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins, and businesses must generally provide “clear and reasonable” warnings prior to exposing anyone in California to a listed chemical, including through consumer, worker, or environmental exposures.
On March 1, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prepublication review a proposed rule that would require reporting and recordkeeping for the production of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). (more…)
On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft guidance for imported articles that may contain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances (LCPFAC), a subgroup of certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as part of a surface coating and that would be subject to its Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) if a manufacturer seeks to resume using them. (more…)
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.
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.
Late summer this year has brought a surge of activity related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research office reported at an industry conference last week that it was evaluating ways to divide PFAS compounds into categories for purposes of risk assessment and risk management. This aligns with the approach supported by industry groups but conflicts with demands from environmental advocates that EPA study each compound separately. Because of the complexity and number of individual PFAS molecules, which number in the thousands, categorization would likely expedite the review process.
Washington state’s Department of Ecology has identified 11 categories of products that are subject to the Safer Products for Washington program under Chapter 70.365 RCW, passed in 2019. Washington state has been among the most active states in the field of “green chemistry laws,” whereby state agencies seek to promote the transition to safer alternatives of toxic substances. The law potentially applies to any consumer product, defined as “any item, including any component parts and packaging, sold for residential or commercial use.” Exemptions are provided for inaccessible electronic components, motorized vehicles, food, drugs, chemicals used to produce agricultural commodities, and certain other goods.