EPA Ends PFAS Reporting Exemption, Could Impact Chemical Supply Chain

EPA Ends PFAS Reporting Exemption, Could Impact Chemical Supply Chain

Oct. 23, 2023
Agency also looks to ban Trichloroethylene

In a move that could have major implications on the chemical supply chain, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Oct. 23 eliminated an exemption for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) reporting.

The EPA’s ruling means that companies previously exempt from reporting their use of products containing minimal PFAS concentrations must now submit data on products containing any level of the substance. The impact on the industry could be significant, says Chemical Processing columnist and attorney Lynn Bergeson.

“First, the availability of the de minimis exemption pertinent to releases of PFAS is big,” said Bergeson in an email. “More entities will be subject to the reporting obligation (and may not know it). Second, elimination of the exemption for supplier notification requirements imposes new disclosure obligations on entities that are likely to inspire other consequences. Purchasers of mixtures containing PFAS will now be notified of a PFAS component in the compositional elements of the products where previously the purchaser may have been unaware. This could plainly invite commercial blowback.”

Manufacturers must submit data for 189 substances listed under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to the EPA annually. The data includes quantities of chemicals released into the environment or managed as waste. The EPA uses the data to inform communities about how facilities in their area are managing listed chemicals and to help drive policies and corporate decision making.  

The EPA says the ruling reflects the Biden administration’s commitment to address the human health and environmental risks of PFAS.

“People deserve to know if they’re being exposed to PFAS through the air they breathe, the water they drink, or while they’re on the job,” said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in a prepared statement. “Under this new rule, EPA will receive more comprehensive data on PFAS and looks forward to sharing that data with our partners and the public.” 

EPA Looks to Ban Trichloroethylene 

The EPA also announced on Oct. 23 that it has proposed a ban on all uses of trichloroethylene (TCE) under the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. The substance is found in cleaning and furniture care products, arts and crafts spray coatings and automotive care products like brake cleaners, and other consumer products.

TCE is an extremely toxic chemical known to cause serious health risks including cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity, according to the EPA. If approved, the rule would take effect in one year for consumer products and most commercial uses. The EPA would implement stringent worker protections on the limited remaining commercial and industrial uses that would be phased down over a longer period. 

“For far too long, TCE has left a toxic legacy in communities across America,” Freedhoff said in a statement. “Today, EPA is taking a major step to protect people from exposure to this cancer-causing chemical. “Today’s proposal to end these unsafe, unrestricted uses of TCE will prevent future contamination to land and drinking water and deliver the chemical safety protections this nation deserves.” 

ACC issued a statement following the proposal, stating that the regulation would be "inconsistent with the underlying science." 

“TCE has several important uses in packaging and formulation, and as a solvent, where small amounts are used," ACC said in a news release. "If EPA decides to move forward with restrictions on consumer uses of TCE, it is important that it does not unnecessarily restrict valuable industrial uses." 

ACC also requested the EPA provide at least 60-day comment periods on all TSCA risk management rule makings going forward, stating that "45 days is insufficient to reach stakeholders in value chains who need to identify and comment on their uses.”

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

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