EPA takes two steps under PFAS Action Plan

Sw News

Washington (September 25, 2019) — As part of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) PFAS Action Plan, the agency today sent two actions that address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. 

The agency’s first action is an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that would allow the public to provide input on adding PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) toxic chemical list.

Chemicals that cause significant adverse environmental or acute human health effects or that cause cancer or other chronic health problems are generally covered by the Toxics Release Inventory Program. Every year, US facilities in different industries must report how much of each chemical on the TRI toxic chemical list is released into the environment (either into the air, water, or placed in land disposal) and/or how much is managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. This information is compiled in the Toxics Release Inventory, which is available for companies, government agencies, NGOs, and the public to support informed decision-making. 

The second action is a supplemental proposal to ensure that certain persistent long-chain PFAS chemicals cannot be imported into the United States without notification and review by EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in 2016. EPA has the authority to deny such “significant new use requests” under TSCA.

“Today’s announcement is just one of the many ways we are delivering on the PFAS Action Plan—the most comprehensive, multi-media research and risk communication plan ever issued by the agency to address an emerging chemical of concern,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These actions are intended to provide the public with more information on PFAS in the environment and to ensure that EPA receives notice of any plan to import certain persistent long-chain PFAS into the country, further protecting all Americans.”

According to EPA, there is evidence that PFAS—which have been used in food packaging, non-stick cookware, water-repellent fabrics, fire fighting foam, and electronics manufacturing—can have adverse health effects on humans. Because PFAS bioaccumulate, the chemicals stay in the body for a long time. When ground- or surface-water sources are contaminated with PFAS, the can build up in marine life. Food grown in PFAS-contaminated soil can also expose humans to the chemicals. Studies indicate that PFAS can have reproductive, developmental, and immunological effects in laboratory animals and have caused tumors in animal studies. More research is needed on the PFAS' affects on human health, but the most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels. Some studies have shown that for humans, certain PFAS may interfere with hormones, lower fertility, affect the immune system, increase the risk of cancer, and affect children's development.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/pfas.

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