WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention today announced three actions to protect the public from the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
First, the agency issued a pre-publication data collection rule, as required by Congress under the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The proposed rule would require manufacturers and importers of any PFAS in any year since 2011 to report information related to chemical identity, categories of use, volumes manufactured and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure and disposal. The NDAA required the EPA to finalize this rule by 2023, so the EPA is well ahead of schedule.
Second, the EPA also rescinded a guidance that was issued in the final days of the Trump administration without consideration of public comment. The guidance further weakened a July 2020 EPA rule prohibiting companies from importing products like carpets and furniture that use so-called long-chain PFAS in surface coatings without prior approval. The Trump guidance would have significantly narrowed the definition of “surface coating,” limiting the number of PFAS-containing products subject to the rule.
Finally, the EPA announced that it is adding three new PFAS chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory, as required by the NDAA. These three PFAS are in addition to 172 PFAS chemicals added to the TRI in 2020. Beginning in 2022, manufacturers using these three PFAS chemicals will have to report any annual releases over 100 pounds.
“EWG applauds the actions taken today by the EPA chemicals office to quickly collect critical industry data on PFAS chemical uses and health risks; regulate more imported products containing PFAS; and require more TRI reporting,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s legislative attorney. “Proposing the data collection rule well ahead of statutory deadlines demonstrates the chemicals office is giving PFAS the urgency they deserve. The information collected under this rule will bring much-needed transparency to PFAS use and production and risks to workers and nearby communities.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.