Category: PFAS

What’s on the Biden administration’s waste and recycling to-do list in 2022

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

One year in, the administration has started work on a range of climate and environmental justice initiatives. Catch up on what’s next from the EPA on the circular economy, PFAS, funding and more.

EPA requires reporting on releases and other waste management of certain PFAS, including PFBS

As part of the comprehensive Strategic Roadmap to confront the human health and environmental risks of PFAS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday the automatic addition of four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list.

TRI data are reported to EPA annually by facilities in certain industry sectors, including federal facilities, that manufacture, process, or otherwise use TRI-listed chemicals above certain quantities. The data include quantities of such chemicals that were released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. Information collected through the TRI allows communities to learn how facilities in their area are managing listed chemicals. The data collected also help inform EPA’s efforts to better understand the listed substances.

“We will use every tool in our toolbox to protect our communities from PFAS pollution,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “Requiring companies to report on how these PFAS are being managed, recycled, or released is an important part of EPA’s comprehensive plan to fill critical data gaps for these chemicals and take meaningful action to safeguard communities from PFAS.”

The Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides the framework for adding additional PFAS to the TRI each year. For TRI Reporting Year 2022 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2023), reporting is required for four additional PFAS.

Among other provisions, section 7321(c) of the NDAA identifies certain regulatory activities that automatically add PFAS or classes of PFAS to the TRI beginning January 1 the following year, and the agency’s finalization of a toxicity value is one of the triggering actions.

In April 2021, EPA finalized a toxicity value for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) (Chemical Abstracts Service registry number (CASRN) 375-73-5) and potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (CASRN 29420-49-3); therefore, these substances have been added to TRI. PFBS-based compounds are replacement chemicals for PFOS, a chemical that was voluntarily phased out by the primary U.S. manufacturer by 2002. PFBS has been identified in the environment and consumer products, including surface water, wastewater, drinking water, dust, carpeting and carpet cleaners, and floor wax.

EPA previously updated the Code of Federal Regulations with PFAS that were added to the TRI on January 1, 2021, pursuant to section 7321(c) of the NDAA and their being regulated by an existing significant new use rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (see 40 CFR 721.10536). EPA has since determined that one additional PFAS, CASRN 65104-45-2, is designated as “active” on the TSCA Inventory and is covered by the SNUR. Therefore, this substance has also been added to the TRI pursuant to the NDAA.

Additionally, under NDAA section 7321(e), EPA must review CBI claims before adding any PFAS to the TRI list whose identity is subject to a claim of protection from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. 552(a). EPA previously identified one PFAS, CASRN 203743-03-7, for addition to the TRI list based on the NDAA’s provision to include certain PFAS upon the NDAA’s enactment (section 7321(b)(1)); however, due to a confidential business information (CBI) claim related to its identity this PFAS was not included on the TRI list until EPA completed its review of the CBI claim. This PFAS was included in updates to the confidential status of chemicals on the TSCA Inventory published by EPA in October 2021, and thus was added to the TRI list due to the CBI declassification.

As of January 1, 2022, facilities which are subject to reporting requirements for these chemicals should start tracking their activities involving these PFAS as required by Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Reporting forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2023, for calendar year 2022 data.

EPA continues to act on Administrator Regan’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, announced in October 2021, a plan that delivers on the agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment and answers the call for action on these persistent and dangerous chemicals. In addition to continuing to add PFAS to the TRI, EPA also will soon announce a series of PFAS test orders that will require PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on PFAS.

‘Forever chemicals’ can ‘boomerang’ from ocean waves to shore: study

Read the full story at The Hill.

Many of the “forever chemicals” that end up in the ocean can “boomerang back to shore” after crashing waves reemit the compounds into the air, a new study has found.

This “sea-to-air transport” mechanism is polluting the air in coastal regions with toxic compounds called PFAS, according to the study, published in Environmental Science & Technology on Wednesday.

Green beauty product testing finds more than 60% have PFAS indicators

Read the full story at Environmental Health News.

Green cosmetic makers know their audience. One manufacturer, in addition to the standard lines about how long-lasting and colorful their product is, says that their lip tint is “cruelty-free,” vegan, and made from wholesome ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter.

Missing from the product description is any reference to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS” — although one tube of that particular liquid lipstick contained 865 parts per million of the PFAS indicator fluorine, according to a new investigation from the environmental wellness community and blog Mamavation.

Connecting Communities

This map from PFAS Exchange shows sites across the U.S. with known or suspected PFAS contamination and where communities are advocating stronger health and environmental protections.

FLUOROS Global 2021: Worldwide gathering of PFAS community examined science solutions for “forever” chemicals

Read the full story from STEEP.

Leading experts from the world came together recently to share their latest findings and progress on science-based solutions for a specific kind of chemical pollution – PFAS. FLUOROS GLOBAL 2021, an annual gathering for scientists to join with community members in dialogue on PFAS issues, drew more than 335 attendees from at least 18 countries and Puerto Rico to its hybrid (in-person and virtual) symposium.

Destroying “forever chemicals” for good

Read the full story from JSTOR Daily.

Because PFAS are ubiquitous and invisible, the recent spotlight on reigning in the chemicals may be the nudge manufacturers need to work on inventing scalable ways to clean up the contaminants. With more than 4,000 chemicals sprinkled throughout thousands of products, it will take a lot more than a trailerful of cleanup duty with supercritical water to tackle the worst-impacted areas.

PFOA and PFAS take another step towards becoming full-fledged members of the CERCLA family of hazardous substances

Read the full story at JD Supra.

On January 10, 2022, U.S. EPA forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a proposed rule that seeks to designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  Although not unexpected since this was of the key elements of U.S. EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, U.S. EPA’s proposed rule is unique in that it represents one of the first times that U.S. EPA has by rule sought to designate a chemical as a CERCLA hazardous substance.  U.S. EPA’s actions in sending the proposed rule to OMB may also be foreshadowing for a similar effort to designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous wastes” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which would subject these substances to RCRA’s cradle to grave regulatory scheme.     

Science Advisory Board (SAB) criticizes draft EPA PFAS documents over lack of transparency

Read the full story at Products Finishing.

In the first week of January 2022, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) PFAS Panel reviewed draft documents for deriving a maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as well as an analysis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction as a result of reduced PFOA and PFOS exposure in drinking water.  EPA uses health-based MCLGs to set enforceable drinking water standards after taking into consideration cost and technology concerns.  EPA will use the CVD document in its cost-benefit analysis for the enforceable drinking water standard…

EPA science advisors criticized several aspects of the draft documents the agency plans to use to set enforceable drinking water limits, saying that even when the agency’s approach appears to be reasonable, EPA has failed to adequately explain its rationale.  The criticisms follow, and in some cases echo, concerns a variety of public commenters have raised about the documents, where state health officials, industry groups and drinking water officials have said the documents contain numerous errors and inconsistencies. Specifically, the panel reviewed a draft framework for estimating noncancer risks associated with PFAS mixtures, raising concerns it could hamper ongoing state efforts to control the chemicals.

PFAS destruction technologies are starting to emerge

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Communities across the US are desperate to rid their environments of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), especially when these chemicals are in their drinking water. But even when PFAS are successfully filtered out of water, disposing of the extracted material remains a challenge. Now, Congress is starting to examine technologies to destroy these widely used synthetic chemicals…

At a Dec. 7 hearing held jointly by two subcommittees of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, lawmakers learned about one emerging approach, supercritical water oxidation. Battelle, a nonprofit research and development organization that does contract work mainly for the US government, presented its work developing the technology.

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