EPA Requests PFAS Tests for 3M, Wacker Chemical

March 26, 2024
Companies must submit testing on NMeFOSE within a year of the order.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order effective March 25 requiring 3M and Wacker Chemical Corp. to conduct and submit testing on NMeFOSE, a per- polyfluoroalkyl substance widely used in clothing, carpet treatments and furniture coatings.

The EPA has identified NMeFOSE, short for 2-(N-Methylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido)ethanol, as a substance that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment. The EPA examined 17 toxicity studies prior to issuing the order. The agency determined the studies were “insufficient to predict the specific health effects of concern the EPA has identified for PFAS, and for NMeFOSE in particular.”

The companies must test the chemicals for health effects related to inhalation, the EPA said in a news release.

The order employs a tiered testing process as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act. The EPA requires companies to submit first-tier testing within one year of the effective date of the order. The EPA will then notify the companies regarding any further tests required.

3M and Wacker may either conduct the tests as described in the order or provide the EPA with existing information they believe the agency didn’t identify in its search but which satisfies the order requirements.

The EPA said it’s encouraging the companies to jointly conduct testing to avoid unnecessary duplication and will also consider possible combinations of tests that cover all required deliverables to minimize time, animal subjects and costs required.

NMeFOSE has been found in the air and in biosolids and can accumulate in indoor dust and air, as well as in outdoor environmental media, according to the EPA.

Wacker is a specialty chemical company with more than 3,000 products, 65% of which are silicone-based materials, and 35% are based on ethylene and acetic acid. 3M, a company known for its adhesive brands, including Scotch tape, has been the subject of lawsuits related to PFAS chemicals. The company intends to stop producing all PFAS products by 2025.

Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the EPA’s chemical safety and pollution prevention office, said the test order is part of an ongoing process to minimize the risks of PFAS.

 “This year, we’re continuing to use test orders to gather data about the health effects of PFAS so that we can take any necessary action to protect people and the environment,” he said.

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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