On November 25, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking the public for input on adding certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals subject to reporting as part of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Currently, no PFAS are required to be reported to the TRI.

The TRI tracks the use and management of listed chemicals that may pose significant threats to humans and the environment. U.S. facilities in various industry sectors are required to annually report to the EPA how much of each listed chemical was released into the environment and/or managed through recycling, treatment, and energy recovery. By tracking this information, the TRI Program is able to provide the public with information about possible exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution prevention activities that reduce exposure.

The EPA will consider public comments and information received in response to their ANPRM as they continue to consider whether to add PFAS to the TRI. Public comments will be used to help the EPA determine whether requisite data and information are available to fulfill the TRI chemical listing criteria and help evaluate the extent and usefulness of the data that could be gathered if PFAS are added to the list of chemicals required to be reported to the TRI. All comments and information will be evaluated in conjunction with previously collected studies. If the EPA decides to move forward with adding PFAS to the list of toxic chemicals required to be reported to the TRI, the agency will publish a proposed rule and seek public comments on it.

PFAS are a class of manmade chemicals with over 5,000 individual synthetic compounds. Since the 1940s, they have been manufactured and used in a variety and industries around the world and can be found in some food packaging, drinking water, and household products. PFAS are utilized for their unique physical properties that make them water repellent, oil repellent, heat resistant, and resistant to degradation.

The EPA included this action as a part of its February 2019 PFAS Action Plan to address short term and long term plans for regulating and tracking PFAS. To date, the EPA has already made progress on other steps in its action plan, including moving working towards setting a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has called this plan “the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical ever taken by the EPA.”

Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher,or John Gardella.

Authored By:

Jessica Deyoe, Esq.