U.S. EPA mandates data reporting on PFAS production and usage
Photo courtesy of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

U.S. EPA mandates data reporting on PFAS production and usage

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a new rule, marking a significant stride in the ongoing efforts to mitigate the impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This regulation is set to furnish the EPA and the public with an unprecedented volume of data on PFAS production and usage in the United States.

PFAS, often termed “forever chemicals” due to their persistent nature, have been integral in the manufacturing of a myriad of products since the mid-20th century. These include nonstick cookware, waterproof garments, and firefighting foams. The new EPA directive is a culmination of more than two years of concerted efforts aligned with the Biden-Harris Administration’s blueprint to tackle PFAS contamination and bolster public health and environmental safety.

This mandate, anchored in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), obliges all PFAS manufacturers and importers to submit comprehensive data to the EPA. The information includes chemical identities, usage, production volumes, byproducts, health and environmental impacts, worker exposures, and disposal practices, dating back to 2011.

Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, underscored the pivotal role of this data in enhancing the understanding and management of PFAS-related risks. This initiative is a cornerstone of the EPA’s strategic approach to addressing the longstanding challenge of PFAS pollution nationwide.

The rule is designed to facilitate the comprehensive scrutiny, monitoring, and regulation of PFAS. It aims to equip the EPA and other governmental entities with actionable insights to develop informed policies and regulations that mitigate the risks associated with these resilient chemicals.

Since its proposal in mid-2021, the rule has undergone extensive public and stakeholder scrutiny, including a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel and a public comment period following the release of an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.

The finalised rule incorporates an expanded definition of PFAS, encompassing an additional 41 substances identified as potentially hazardous. It is applicable to at least 1,462 known PFAS, offering a more holistic data set essential for devising effective protective measures against these chemicals’ health and environmental impacts.

The EPA has also optimised the reporting protocols to alleviate the reporting burden for entities engaged in the production or importation of minimal quantities of PFAS for research and those importing PFAS-contained products into the U.S.

Entities are required to submit the stipulated data within 18 months from the rule’s enactment, with a six-month extension for small businesses reporting on imported PFAS-contained products.