The Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) has written draft model legislation aimed at reducing and eliminating the use of PFAS in products.
The draft legislation offers a “menu of options” for legislators to consider, including a ban on products and packaging with intentionally-added PFAS. Manufacturers could apply for an exemption if they can prove the product has an “unavoidable use,” but they would be required to establish an extended producer responsibility organization to take back the items.
The draft bill contains other recommended provisions meant to label PFAS-containing items, educate the public on PFAS issues and set requirements so downstream operators know manufacturers are complying with regulations. The group is seeking public comment on the draft through June 29.
To support EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, EPA is compiling and integrating a collection of data that can be used to evaluate what is known about PFAS manufacture, release, and occurrence in communities. As part of this effort, EPA is integrating data available nationally with other information from states, Tribes, and localities that are testing for PFAS pursuant to their own regulatory or voluntary data collection initiatives. The data included in the PFAS Analytic Tools have a wide range of location-specific data and, in general, are based on national scope and readily accessible, public information repositories.
The PFAS Analytic Tools make it easier to evaluate the collective PFAS information from 11 different databases – the application integrates these datasets into an interactive, web-based software. Consolidating all these data sources in one searchable platform will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities, including potential exposure pathways in communities with environmental justice concerns.
This training webinar will provide an overview of the PFAS Analytic Tools and a tutorial on how to use them.
People who live in communities with higher proportions of Black and Hispanic/Latino residents are more likely to be exposed to harmful levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their water supplies than people living in other communities, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The researchers link this finding to the disproportionate siting of sources of PFAS pollution—such as major manufacturers, airports, military bases, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills—near watersheds serving these communities.
Despite scientific concern, PFAS are still used in everything from waterproof camping gear to fast food containers. And according to a new study, they are used even more in Texas.
A new report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility documents the wide use of PFAS in oil and gas drilling and calls on Texas to follow the lead of some other states in restricting use of the chemicals. The group criticized state regulations that allow energy companies to withhold information on the use of chemicals they deem to be proprietary.
From makeup to clothing and furniture, so-called “forever chemicals” are everywhere – including the paper bowls and containers used to package Canadian fast-food meals.
In a recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, Miriam L. Diamond, a professor in the U of T’s department of Earth sciences and School of the Environment in the Faculty of Arts & Science, and her team examined 42 paper-based wrappers and bowls – often billed as an environmentally friendly alternative to single-use plastics – collected from fast-food restaurants in Toronto.
They were looking for potentially toxic human-made perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), of which there are more than 9,000 in the world.
The most abundant compound detected in the samples was 6:2 FTOH, or 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol – a PFAS that is known to be toxic. Another finding: fibre-based moulded bowls that are marketed as “compostable” had PFAS levels three to 10 times higher than paper doughnut and pastry bags.
These chemicals are a group of artificial compounds based on carbon and fluorine – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. They comprise thousands of individual chemicals with hundreds of documented uses, including water proofing and fire suppression. It is likely every household has products or textiles that contain or were treated with a product that contained PFAS (including some non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics).
Studies have shown most people have one or more PFAS compounds in their blood. We live in a world full of chemicals, so why do we care about these ones? Well, some PFAS have been associated with a wide range of adverse human health effects, such as cancer and immune problems. However, there is limited evidence of human disease resulting from environmental exposures.
Our study investigated the uptake of PFAS into livestock at ten PFAS-impacted farms in Victoria. Our analysis also shows how risks can be reduced.
Our findings show the land and livestock can be managed to reduce PFAS levels in the animals before they enter the food chain. This means good management practices can protect food quality and reduce consumer exposure.
As the name would suggest, forever chemicals persist in the environment. As a result, when released into the environment, they disperse and over time can contaminate surrounding areas.
Firefighting and training activities have historically resulted in large releases of PFAS into the environment. This includes farming areas.
As livestock feed and drink from contaminated sources, this leads to PFAS accumulation in tissues. From there, PFAS can be transferred into the food chain, including products we eat such as meat and milk.
The causal links and what levels of PFAS exposure are harmful are still being investigated. The scientific community has yet to reach a consensus on how “bad” these compounds are, or conversely what the safe exposure levels are.
Australian food quality is high. In a 2021 study, scientists tested for 30 different PFAS in a broad range of Australian foods and beverages. Only one specific PFAS (PFOS) was detectable. It was found in just five out of 112 commonly consumed foods and beverages at levels below concern.
These findings would suggest PFAS contamination is not an issue at most farms in Australia. The risks are likely to be higher from food produced at PFAS-contaminated sites. At such locations, PFAS can affect a range of foods, including eggs, vegetables and livestock.
What did the study investigate?
We collated data from environmental investigations at ten PFAS-impacted farms in Victoria. This included testing about 1,000 samples of soil, water, pasture and livestock blood for concentrations of 28 types of PFAS. Our analysis also included information about farm practices, including livestock rotation, access to clean pasture and water.
two specific PFAS compounds (PFOS and PFHxS) made up more than 98% of total PFAS detected in livestock blood
PFAS concentrations in water were correlated to concentrations in livestock blood, implying water was a critical exposure pathway, while the relationships between livestock and PFAS levels for soil and pasture were weaker
livestock exposure to PFAS varies over time and across paddocks. Seasonal patterns in PFAS blood concentrations were linked to seasonal grazing behaviours and the animals’ need for drinking water.
What’s the next step?
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is leading research and policy to understand how environmental PFAS risks can be better managed. In this regard, EPA along with research partners, is working to develop predictive models to estimate PFAS accumulation in livestock over their lifetime. This research will help determine when a site is too contaminated for livestock production and which ones to prioritise for PFAS remediation in soil and water.
Ultimately, this will allow more effective management of PFAS accumulation and reduce the likelihood of having PFAS for dinner.
On April 13, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the federal register an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking public input to inform its decision whether to designate additional per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under Section 102(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The ANPRM is not a proposed rule, but it may be the first step in the potential designation of the listed substances and the potential designation of categories of PFAS as hazardous substances. The designation of additional PFAS was a stated goal of EPA’s October 2021 Strategic Roadmap.
This ANPRM follows EPA’s September 6, 2022 proposed rule designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances, which is expected to be finalized in the coming months. The designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances would be the first time in EPA’s history that a substance is designated as hazardous under Section 102(a) of CERCLA. Today’s ANPRM reiterates EPA’s position that it need not consider cost when designating a substance as hazardous under Section 102(a) of CERCLA, a position first made in the still-pending proposed rule designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances.
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