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EPA Floats Two Rules to Increase Oversight of PFAS

Sept. 25, 2019, 10:21 PM

The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing two possible rules that would increase the EPA’s oversight of at least some PFAS, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Sept. 25.

The agency sent the White House office a revised “significant new use rule” that would require the agency be notified before certain, highly persistent long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) could be imported into the U.S. through products containing them, it said.

Those chemicals already are no longer made or imported into the country.

The EPA will also invite the public’s thoughts on how at least some PFAS could be added to the Toxics Release Inventory, which tracks hazardous chemicals that are recycled, disposed, or otherwise released into the environment.

The public’s perspectives would be submitted through an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency said.

Action Plan

The two possible rules are part of the agency’s strategy under the commitments it made in the PFAS Action Plan it released in February, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in the announcement.

OMB’s approval is needed before the agency could proceed with either rulemaking.

The EPA’s announcement comes about 18 hours before Wheeler will discuss these emerging contaminants during a symposium in Washington.

Thousands of Chemicals

PFAS are a huge group of thousands of chemicals, some of which give industrial and consumer products special properties, such as heat, water, and stain resistance. Those properties make them essential in many aerospace, medical, and other applications.

Some PFAS don’t break down in the environment, leading to human and ecological exposures.

Research on a handful of PFAS shows they can affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children; make it harder for a woman to get pregnant; interfere with the body’s natural hormones; increase cholesterol levels; and raise the risk of cancer, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The EPA’s action plan said the agency would re-propose a 2015 significant new use rule, or SNUR, that would have allowed the agency to review the safety of some highly persistent members of the PFAS group.

The 2015 proposal was sharply criticized by Intel, the Semiconductor Industry Association, and global automakers such as Aston Martin, the Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Toyota, as denying them needed access to perfluorinated chemicals and the goods made with them.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington at prizzuto@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com

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