EPA confirms fluorinated containers leach PFAS

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Plastic containers made of fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are likely to leach per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into pesticides and other liquid products that are stored in them, results from the US Environmental Protection Agency suggest.

The data, released Sept. 8, show that the amount of PFAS that migrates into liquid products increases with storage time.

Northwestern professor takes on ‘forever chemicals,’ and he just might win

Read the full story in the Chicago Sun-Times.

William Dichtel’s research with colleague Brittany Trang found that heating a combination of a widely used solvent and lye can destroy many types of common cancer-causing PFAS found in Teflon pans and many other products.

As state PFAS in packaging laws loom, restaurants mull serviceware alternatives

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

As fast food chains face lawsuits related to PFAS in packaging, and numerous states prepare to enact related packaging bans, restaurant franchisors should consider proactively changing their foodware offerings, attorneys recommended during an Aug. 10 webinar from legal services firm Lathrop GPM.

Franchisors must closely monitor upcoming changes to state regulations, which could dictate how they source or purchase items like cups, takeout containers and other food serviceware — and what kinds of products eventually end up in disposal sites, they said.

Ten states have passed laws banning intentionally-added PFAS in packaging, with New York’s law taking effect at the end of the year. With more such laws expected to pass in the next few years, experts suggested finding PFAS-free packaging alternatives, even if businesses are complying with current state and local regulations related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

‘Forever chemicals’ are everywhere. The battle over who pays to clean them up is just getting started.

Read the full story at Politico.

State and local governments across the country are suing manufacturers of toxic chemicals that are contaminating much of the nation’s drinking water, aiming to shield water customers and taxpayers from the massive cost of cleaning them up.

These pervasive “forever chemicals,” known as PFAS, are linked to a variety of health hazards, including cancer. Now, as state lawmakers and federal regulators get serious about removing them, scores of governments and water suppliers are in pitched court battles over who is on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars in damage — the companies that created the chemicals or the customers who are drinking them.

Plant-based material can remediate PFAS, new research suggests

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

A novel technology that can efficiently bind to and break down per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment was developed by scientists at Texas A&M Agrilife Research with support from an NIEHS Superfund Research Program individual research grant.

The new approach uses a plant-based material that adsorbs PFAS and microbial fungi that literally eat up the so-called “forever chemicals.” The findings, which were published July 28 in Nature Communications, could provide a powerful solution for finally getting rid of these contaminants.

Maybe PFAS aren’t as sturdy as previously thought

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have quickly become ubiquitous in the environment. Used for decades in everything from firefighting foams to nonstick skillets, these potentially toxic compounds are now being found in soils, groundwater and even rain and snow.

And they’re expected to stay in the environment for years—perhaps centuries—as the compounds’ sturdy fluoride-carbon bonds make it nearly impossible for them to degrade naturally. But now, scientists have developed a way to permanently break down two classes of these “forever chemicals” using relatively low temperatures and a few common reagents (Science 2022, DOI: 10.1126/science.abm8868). Brittany Trang, who co-led the study, presented the work on Wednesday at the ACS Fall 2022 meeting in the Division of Environmental Chemistry. William Dichtel, a chemist at Northwestern University, also introduced the work at a presidential event symposium on Tuesday.

Developing tech to eliminate ‘forever chemicals’ from water

Read the full story from the University of Illinois Chicago.

Engineers at the University of Illinois Chicago have been awarded just over $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation to build a system that selectively removes and destroys poly- and perfluorinated substances, commonly called PFAS and referred to as “forever chemicals,” from industrial and municipal wastewaters. PFAS are man-made chemicals found in many common materials, and the grant will support the team’s work for three years. 

Texas A&M AgriLife develops new bioremediation material to clean up ‘forever chemicals’

Read the full story from Texas A&M.

A novel bioremediation technology for cleaning up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, chemical pollutants that threaten human health and ecosystem sustainability, has been developed by Texas A&M AgriLife researchers. The material has potential for commercial application for disposing of PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.”

Published July 28 in Nature Communications, the research was a collaboration of Susie Dai, associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and Joshua Yuan, chair and professor in Washington University in St. Louis Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, formerly with the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.

grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and support from Texas A&M AgriLife funded the work.

EPA proposes designating certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under Superfund to protect people’s health

Following through on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackle environmental injustice and improve public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a significant action under Administrator Regan’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap to protect people and communities from the health risks posed by certain PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.” EPA is proposing to designate two of the most widely used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as “Superfund.” This rulemaking would increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination. 

The proposal applies to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), including their salts and structural isomers, and is based on significant evidence that PFOA and PFOS may present a substantial danger to human health or welfare or the environment. PFOA and PFOS can accumulate and persist in the human body for long periods of time and evidence from laboratory animal and human epidemiology studies indicates that exposure to PFOA and/or PFOS may lead to cancer, reproductive, developmental, cardiovascular, liver, and immunological effects. 

“Communities have suffered far too long from exposure to these forever chemicals. The action announced today will improve transparency and advance EPA’s aggressive efforts to confront this pollution, as outlined in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Under this proposed rule, EPA will both help protect communities from PFAS pollution and seek to hold polluters accountable for their actions.”  

Many known and potential sources of PFAS contamination are near communities already overburdened with pollution. If finalized, the rulemaking would trigger reporting of PFOA and PFOS releases, providing the Agency with improved data and the option to require cleanups and recover cleanup costs to protect public health and encourage better waste management. 

It would also improve EPA, state, Tribal nation, and local community understanding of the extent and locations of PFOA and PFOS contamination throughout the country and help all communities to avoid or reduce contact with these potentially dangerous chemicals.  

EPA is focused on holding responsible those who have manufactured and released significant amounts of PFOA and PFOS into the environment. EPA will use enforcement discretion and other approaches to ensure fairness for minor parties who may have been inadvertently impacted by the contamination. EPA is also committed to doing further outreach and engagement to hear from impacted communities, wastewater utilities, businesses, farmers and other parties during the consideration of the proposed rule. 

If this designation is finalized, releases of PFOA and PFOS that meet or exceed the reportable quantity would have to be reported to the National Response Center, state or Tribal emergency response commissions, and the local or Tribal emergency planning committees. A release of these or any other hazardous substance will not always lead to the need to clean up or add a site to the National Priorities List (NPL), liability or an enforcement action. EPA anticipates that a final rule would encourage better waste management and treatment practices by facilities handling PFOA or PFOS. The reporting of a release could potentially accelerate privately financed cleanups and mitigate potential adverse impacts to human health and the environment. 

Additionally, the proposed rule would, in certain circumstances, facilitate making the polluter pay by allowing EPA to seek to recover cleanup costs from a potentially responsible party or to require such a party to conduct the cleanup. In addition, federal entities that transfer or sell their property will be required to provide a notice about the storage, release, or disposal of PFOA or PFOS on the property and a covenant (commitment in the deed) warranting that it has cleaned up any resulting contamination or will do so in the future, if necessary, as required under CERCLA 120(h). 
 
EPA will be publishing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register in the next several weeks. Upon publication, EPA welcomes comment for a 60-day comment period. 
 
As a subsequent step, EPA anticipates issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking after the close of the comment period on today’s proposal to seek public comment on designating other PFAS chemicals as CERCLA hazardous substances.  
 
Today’s actions represent a significant milestone within the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitments to combat PFAS pollution and safeguard drinking water, and specifically EPA’s October 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Under the Roadmap, EPA is working across the agency to protect the public from the health impacts of PFAS. EPA has taken a number of actions to deliver progress on PFAS including:  

  • Releasing drinking water health advisories for four PFAS – using the best available science to tackle PFAS pollution, protect public health, and provide critical information quickly and transparently; 
  • Making available $1 billion in grant funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; 
  • Issuing the first Toxic Substances Control Act PFAS test order under the National PFAS Testing Strategy;   
  • Adding five PFAS Regional Screening and Removal Management Levels that EPA uses to help determine if cleanup is needed;  
  • Publishing draft aquatic life water quality criteria for PFOA and PFOS;  
  • Issuing a memo to proactively address PFAS in Clean Water Act permitting;  
  • Publishing a new draft total adsorbable fluorine wastewater method; and 
  • Issuing the fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule to improve EPA’s understanding of the frequency that 29 PFAS are found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels and preparing to propose a PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation by the end of 2022. 

For more information

Source: U.S. EPA news release

Non-PFAS wetting agents for decorative chromium(VI) plating

Read the full story at Products Finishing.

This article is based on a presentation given at NASF SUR/FIN 2022, in Rosemont, Illinois, in Session 6, Responses to PFAS / PFOA.  It follows the case study of three facilities’ conversion from PFAS-containing wetting agents to non-PFAS equivalents, eliminating PFAS and moving forward with a smaller and more sustainable environmental footprint.  The journey of conversion from PFAS-containing wetting agents in both chromic-sulfuric etch and hexavalent decorative plating tanks can be complicated and winding due to deep rooted standard industry practices, as well as state and federal regulations.  Outlined here is a clear course of action that led to eliminating PFAS from the facilities’ wetting agent strategies.