To help deliver on EPA’s commitment to help reduce the potential risks to the public from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the agency is announcing three important actions that will better protect all communities from pollution. Today’s actions include issuing a proposed rule that is designed to gather comprehensive data on more than 1,000 PFAS manufactured in the United States, withdrawing guidance that weakened EPA’s July 2020 Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) restricting certain long-chain PFAS, and publishing a final rule that officially incorporates three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
“When it comes to tackling PFAS, EPA is committed to strengthening our rules, improving our data, and advancing our understanding of these complex chemicals, and then using this information to make informed decisions to protect people and the environment,” said Michal Freedhoff, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These actions will help us harness the best available science to develop policies and programs that can improve health protections for everyone, including those living in historically underserved communities.”
The announcement includes the following:
Proposed Rule to Require Reporting on PFAS Manufactured in the United States
Collecting data from manufacturers of PFAS is an important first step to better understanding and ultimately reducing potential risks caused by these chemicals. The proposed rule announced today, which is a statutory requirement under the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would require all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS in any year since 2011 to report information related to chemical identity, categories of use, volumes manufactured and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure, and disposal.
The proposed rule would help EPA better understand the sources and quantities of PFAS manufactured in the United States and support the agency’s PFAS research, monitoring, and regulatory efforts. Once finalized, this rule would be the first targeted effort under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to collect information on the manufacture of PFAS and would provide EPA with the most comprehensive dataset of PFAS manufactured in the United States.
To assist stakeholders in determining whether they have manufactured PFAS during the reporting period and therefore would be subject to this rule, EPA is providing examples of PFAS from the TSCA Inventory and new chemical low-volume exemption notices and structural diagram examples of additional PFAS that cannot be identified on the afore mentioned lists due to confidentiality claims.
The proposed deadline for reporting PFAS data to EPA is one year following the effective date of the final rule.
Withdrawing Compliance Guide on PFAS SNUR
In accordance with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Orders and other directives, including those on environmental justice, scientific integrity, and regulatory review, EPA has withdrawn a compliance guide that weakened the July 2020 Significant New Use Rule (SNUR)which, among other things, prohibits companies from importing certain long-chain PFAS as part of a “surface coating” on articles without prior EPA review and approval. Examples of articles that could contain these PFAS as part of a surface coating include, but are not limited to, automotive parts, carpet, furniture, and electronic components.
The compliance guide was issued in January 2021 in the last days of the previous Administration and limited what would be considered a “surface coating” subject to the SNUR. The guide was never deemed necessary by career staff and its development was directed by political officials serving in the last Administration. Additionally, the guide was finalized without considering or addressing comments submitted by the public. After further review, EPA determined that the guide inappropriately narrowed the scope and weakened the prohibitions included in the SNUR.
As such, EPA has removed the January 2021 compliance guide from the agency’s website, and it is no longer in effect. This action also follows the announcement that EPA rescinded the procedural rule on guidance documents to restore the flexibilities needed to effectively address urgent human health, safety, and environmental challenges. EPA’s July 2020 SNUR continues to be in effect. Articles containing certain long-chain PFAS as a surface coating cannot be imported into the United States without EPA review. Importers of articles, but not processors of articles, are subject to the SNUR. Although the SNUR did not include a regulatory definition of “surface coating,” the rule provides information on the intended meaning of the phrase. Therefore, EPA does not intend to issue a new guidance document.
Implementing NDAA Requirements to Report PFAS to TRI
EPA has taken the next step to implement an important PFAS requirement of the NDAA. The NDAA provided a framework for additional PFAS to be added to TRI on an annual basis. For TRI Reporting Year 2021 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2022), the NDAA automatically added three PFAS to the TRI list because they are now subject to a SNUR under TSCA.
On June 3, 2021, the agency issued a final rule that officially incorporates these requirements into the Code of Federal Regulations for TRI. Per the NDAA requirements, the PFAS additions became effective as of January 1, 2021. Reporting forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2022, for calendar year 2021 data.