Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Food Packaging: Second Alternatives Assessment

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This is the second Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) alternatives assessment
(AA) of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plant-fiber-based food packaging. This AA
is pursuant to the requirements of RCW 70A.222.070, which restricts the manufacture,
distribution, and sale in Washington of “food packaging to which PFAS chemicals have been
intentionally added in any amount.” PFAS are intentionally added to some paper food
packaging products to provide oil and grease resistance, water repellency, and leak resistance.
The restriction timeline depends on when we identify safer alternatives to PFAS in food
packaging…

This AA: evaluates less toxic chemicals and nonchemical alternatives to replace the use of PFAS in food packaging; follows the guidelines for alternatives assessments issued by the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2); includes, at a minimum, an evaluation of chemical hazards, exposure, performance, cost, and availability.

EPA creates database to find thermal treatment processes for remediating PFAS

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Because there are so many forms of PFAS and treatment options, EPA researchers have developed a centralized database to record reliable references. EPA’s PFAS Thermal Treatment Database (PFASTT) is an easy-to-use online tool that provides referenced information on the use of different thermal treatment processes for the remediation of PFAS. It was designed for use by utilities; federal, state and local agencies; scientific researchers; and others interested in the thermal treatment of PFAS. These groups could use PFASTT when making decisions for effective PFAS treatment processes, plan for future treatment plant upgrades, recognizing research needs, and more.

Pressure growing to remove PFAS from fast food wrappers

Read the full story at Great Lakes Now.

Environmental and health groups are pushing dozens of fast food companies, supermarkets chains and other retail outlets to remove PFAS chemicals from their packaging. Known as “forever chemicals” for their persistence in the environment, they have been used for decades to prevent grease, water and other liquids from soaking through wrappers, boxes and bags.

Opponents of the practice argue the packaging poses a danger to consumers as well as the environment, since the waste ends up in landfills. in compost or is incinerated where the chemicals can leach into groundwater or soil. They contend there are safer alternatives.

Several groups have maintained that many major brands use packaging with PFAS and that testing at times showed extremely high levels.

A 2017 study by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit research organization Silent Spring Institute found PFAS in almost half of paper wrappers and 20% of boxes from 27 fast food outlets. Tests by Toxic-Free Future in 2018 produced similar results. And, this year, Consumer Reports found eight restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Cava, had packaging that had more than 100 parts per million of fluorine, which indicates likely presence of PFAS.

Midwest EPA leader outlines steps to address PFAS, brownfield sites

Read the full story from Wisconsin Public Radio.

Underscoring a new push to advance equity and justice, an Environmental Protection Agency leader said Monday the federal regulator is hiring about five full-time employees to work on environmental justice.

EPA warns toxic ‘forever chemicals’ more dangerous than once thought

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency warned Wednesday that a group of human-made chemicals found in the drinking water, cosmetics and food packaging used by millions of Americans pose a greater danger to human health than regulators previously thought.

The new health advisories for a ubiquitous class of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, underscore the risk facing dozens of communities across the country. Linked to infertility, thyroid problems and several types of cancer, these “forever chemicals” can persist in the environment for years without breaking down.

Minneapolis firm strikes first major deal for its PFAS-fighting technology

Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Claros Technologies, which last year raised $5.35 million in venture capital, has struck its first major agreement to scale its system to “capture, concentrate and destroy” PFAS chemicals from wastewater.

Minneapolis-based Claros said it has a partnership worth millions of dollars with Japan’s Kureha Corp., a manufacturer of specialty chemicals and plastics for the advanced materials, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and wastewater-treatment industries.

Pritzker signs bill amending Environmental Protection Act to prohibit disposal by incineration of PFAS

Read the full story at WAND.

Governor JB Pritzker signed HB 4818 Wednesday, an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act prohibiting the disposal by incineration of any perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including aqueous film forming foam (AFFF).

PFAS chemicals do not last forever

Read the full story from the University of California-Riverside.

Once dubbed ‘forever chemicals,’ per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, might be in the market for a new nickname. Adding iodide to a water treatment reactor that uses ultraviolet (UV) light and sulfite destroys up to 90% of carbon-fluorine atoms in PFAS forever chemicals in just a few hours, reports a new study led by environmental engineers. The addition of iodide accelerates the speed of the reaction up to four times, saving energy and chemicals.

EPA issues first test order under National Testing Strategy for PFAS in commercial fire fighting foam and other uses

Today, as a part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the agency issued the first in a series of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) test orders to require companies to conduct and submit testing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). When EPA announced its Strategic Roadmap to confront PFAS contamination nationwide, the agency also released the National PFAS Testing Strategy to help identify PFAS data needs and require testing to fill those gaps.

“For far too long, families across America, especially those in underserved communities, have suffered from PFAS. High-quality, robust data on PFAS helps EPA to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by these chemicals,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Our communities deserve transparency from the companies that use or produce these substances about their potential environmental and human health impacts.”

EPA selected 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine (CASRN 34455-29-3) as the first order issued pursuant to the National PFAS Testing Strategy. 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine has been manufactured (defined to include importing) in significant quantities (more than 25,000 pounds in a given year) according to TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule reports. This chemical substance is a surfactant used to make commercial fire-fighting foams and may be found in certain floor finishes. CDR data also indicate that at least 500 workers in a given year could be potentially exposed to this chemical. Although there is some hazard and exposure information about this PFAS, EPA found there is insufficient data to determine the effects on human health associated with the inhalation route of exposure. This test order will address this data need.

The Chemours Company, DuPont De Nemours Inc., National Foam Inc., and Johnson Controls Inc. are the recipients of this first test order. The companies subject to the test order may conduct the tests as described in the order, including testing of physical-chemical properties and health effects following inhalation, or provide EPA with existing information that they believe EPA did not identify in its search for existing information. EPA encourages companies to jointly conduct testing to avoid unnecessary duplication of tests. The order employs a tiered testing process, as TSCA requires. The results of all the first-tier testing are required to be submitted to EPA within 400 days of the effective date of the order and will inform the decision as to whether additional tests are necessary. The orders and any data submitted in response to these orders that are not subject to a valid confidentiality claim will be made publicly available on EPA’s website and in applicable dockets on www.regulations.govEXITEXIT EPA WEBSITE.

PFAS National Testing Strategy

In the PFAS National Testing Strategy, EPA assigned 6,504 PFAS into smaller categories based on similarities in structure, physical-chemical properties, and existing toxicity data. Of these categories, EPA identified 24 that lack toxicity data to inform EPA’s understanding of the potential human health effects and contain PFAS with at least one identifiable manufacturer to whom EPA could issue a test order. As EPA continues to further develop the National PFAS Testing Strategy and following the review of some stakeholder feedback, the agency also plans to increase the weight it places on the potential for exposures when identifying the representative PFAS for each category.

Based on EPA’s experience to date in developing tiered testing strategies for PFAS, it will also be important to have a better, upfront understanding of physical-chemical properties for the wide variety of PFAS included in the National PFAS Testing Strategy. The information from these initial orders will provide the agency with critical information on more than 2,000 similar PFAS that fall within these categories. This information will allow the agency to make better-informed decisions about PFAS as well as guide any future orders. The agency plans to issue the additional Phase I orders in the coming months.

Based on available information and predictive models, testing on 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine will also inform the agency’s understanding of the human health effects of 503 additional PFAS with similar structures as detailed in the Testing Strategy.

Section 4 Test Orders

Developing section 4 test orders is a complex and resource-intensive process involving many scientific and regulatory considerations, as explained in this Overview of Activities Involved in Issuing a TSCA Section 4 Order. With this test order, EPA is for the first time describing the process future PFAS test orders will follow to obtain data on human health effects pursuant to a “may present an unreasonable risk” finding under TSCA section 4(a)(1). This testing comprehensively yet efficiently investigates human health endpoints, applying testing methodologies appropriate for the physical-chemical properties of the subject PFAS. Given the complexity of the testing requirements, a broad spectrum of experts across many offices in the agency worked to determine testing methodology and needs and address other details that go into the process of drafting and issuing an order (e.g., assessing the economic burden of an order).

Additionally, one order often applies to multiple companies. EPA must identify these companies and their associated points of contacts. To improve the transparency of the process, EPA also tries to resolve confidential business information claims that could prevent EPA from publicly connecting the company to the chemical substance prior to issuing test orders.

Which Illinois water systems have high amounts of PFAS, and how can exposure be avoided?

Read the full story in the Belleville News-Democrat.

A harmful chemical linked to cancer and other illnesses was detected above state guidance levels earlier this year in six southwestern Illinois areas: Collinsville, East St. Louis, Eldred, Hardin, East Alton and Wood River.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released multiple health advisories related to PFAS in 2021. The guidance aims to help local officials and community water supply operators assess toxicity and risk in any given system, though it is not enforceable.

The state is working to develop PFAS requirements, but in the meantime it’s up to residents, municipalities and water suppliers to decide if they will take action.