EPA introduces enhanced PFAS reporting rules for toxics release inventory

EPA introduces enhanced PFAS reporting rules for toxics release inventory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced a new rule to bolster the reporting of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) within the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). This rule eradicates a previous exemption that permitted facilities to bypass PFAS reporting when used in minimal amounts. Commonly dubbed “forever chemicals,” PFAS are present in a myriad of products in low concentrations. With this exemption removal, sectors like manufacturing, metal mining, and chemical manufacturing, along with federal entities using any of the 189 TRI-listed PFAS, will now be mandated to disclose the PFAS amounts they handle or release.

Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, remarked, “Citizens have a right to be informed about PFAS exposure, whether it’s through air, water, or occupational settings. This rule ensures the EPA gathers extensive PFAS data, which will be shared with stakeholders and the public.”

This initiative propels the EPAโ€™s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, which is aimed at addressing the health and environmental challenges posed by PFAS.

Facilities across sectors like manufacturing, metal mining, and chemical manufacturing report TRI data to the EPA annually. This data encompasses the chemical amounts released or managed as waste. The TRI offers insights into how local facilities handle specific chemicals, aiding informed decisions by businesses, governmental bodies, NGOs, and the public. Updated TRI tools, like the EPAโ€™s TRI Toxics Tracker, enable communities to pinpoint TRI-reporting facilities and gain insights into their chemical management and pollution prevention measures.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) initially incorporated 172 PFAS into the TRI-covered chemicals list for 2021 and set the groundwork for future PFAS inclusions. The NDAA set a reporting threshold of 100 pounds for these chemicals, which is notably lower than most other TRI-listed chemicals. However, the prior administration’s interpretation of the NDAA did not consider the de-minimis exemption, allowing facilities to overlook minimal PFAS concentrations.

This new rule designates PFAS as “chemicals of special concern” for TRI reporting, ensuring that facilities report on PFAS irrespective of their mixture concentrations. The rule also revokes the previous exemption for supplier notifications to downstream facilities for all “chemicals of special concern,” which includes chemicals like lead, mercury, and dioxins that persist in the environment and accumulate in the body. This amendment guarantees that mixture and trade name product buyers are aware of these chemicals in their purchases.

Supporting materials for this rule will be available in the docket upon its Federal Register publication.

For more details on the final rule, click here.