On August 26, 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication copy of its much-anticipated proposed rule adding perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to the list of “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund). EPA asserts that this regulatory escalation of PFOA and PFOS will facilitate faster cleanup of contaminated sites and reduce exposures to these “forever chemicals.” If finalized, these hazardous substances designations will have significant and immediate impacts on many industries, from creating new reporting obligations to increased compliance, enforcement, and litigation risks related to site cleanup. EPA’s efforts involving PFOA and PFOS fall within the broader, whole-of-agency approach to addressing PFAS first announced in its PFAS Strategic Roadmap and represent its first ever exercise of its authority under CERCLA section 102(a) to designate a hazardous substance.
On July 28, 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the 2021 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) preliminary dataset that provides public access to data about chemical releases, waste management, and pollution prevention activities that took place in calendar year 2021 at more than 20,000 federal and industrial facilities across the country. The 2021 preliminary dataset, which for the second year includes reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) added to the TRI by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), has not yet undergone the complete TRI data quality process. EPA plans to publish the quality-checked dataset in October 2022, at which time it will be the basis for the 2021 TRI National Analysis interpreting the information and examining trends that is expected to be published in early 2023. Companies should bear in mind that information collected under the TRI program can be used not only to inform regulatory action, but also as a basis for enforcement by EPA and citizen suits.…
On June 15, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released drinking water health advisories  for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), resulting in the establishment of:
- Near zero updated interim advisory levels for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) that are not only orders of magnitude below previously established levels, but that are also below detectable levels and, notably, were issued in advance of completion of peer review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB); and
- Newly issued final advisories at low levels for GenX and PFBS chemicals that have been used as replacement chemicals for PFOA and PFOS.
On April 12, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a sweeping proposed ban on ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos known to still be imported into the United States. EPA’s proposed ban is the first risk management rule issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since the 2016 Lautenberg Act overhauled the statute to give EPA new powers to review and regulate existing chemicals.
Continue Reading EPA Proposes Ban of Chrysotile Asbestos in Historic TSCA Risk Management Rule
Does your company manufacture, process, distribute, use, or dispose of fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers and similar plastics? If so, it may be time for supply chain and process reviews aimed at identifying and eliminating possible per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination.
Continue Reading EPA Puts Industry on Notice of Potential TSCA Violations for PFAS Contamination in Plastic Containers
Two recent actions by the Biden Administration will identify areas of focus for environmental justice and therefore influence environmental enforcement priorities, federal permitting and licensing, and federal spending, among other actions. On February 18, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released the beta (or draft) version of its Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), a key component of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The Justice40 Initiative set the goal of “delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments” to disadvantaged communities. The CEJST serves a specific purpose: to help agencies identify disadvantaged communities in order to direct federal benefits and help agencies measure whether 40 percent of benefits are being received by those communities.
Continue Reading Biden Administration Rolls Out New Climate, Economic, and Environmental Justice Tools
On December 29, the chemicals program at EPA closed out 2021 by proposing revisions to its risk determinations for the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), a solvent used as a flame retardant and wetting agent which has not been manufactured in the United States in nearly five years. In doing so, the Biden EPA made good on its June 2021 promise to revisit risk determinations previously made during the Trump Administration in accordance with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The draft “revisions” represent a significant shift from EPA’s prior approach to existing chemical risk evaluation and foreshadow increased regulatory and litigation risk for all companies—not just those whose operations may have historically involved HBCD.
Continue Reading Why EPA’s Announcement about a Chemical No Longer Manufactured is Big News for your Business
With the busy holiday shopping season underway, retailers should remain vigilant in their efforts to protect consumers and themselves from the risks of selling potentially unsafe, ineffective or misbranded products in violation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA’s) federal pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As concerns with the spread of COVID-19 and new variants increase over the winter months, consumers are likely to stock up disinfectant products and devices like air purifiers and air filters marketed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and other microorganisms. These products are tightly regulated under FIFRA, and retailers can unwittingly become entangled in regulatory enforcement actions for selling and distributing products that do not comply with EPA’s regulations. FIFRA extends legal liability not only to the makers of violative products, but also retailers who sell them to consumers, whether or not the retailer was necessarily aware of the violation. In addition to EPA, state agencies also enforce state regulatory requirements applicable to these products.
Continue Reading Five Questions Retailers Should Ask Themselves When Selling Pesticide Products and Devices
11.22.21 Last week, EPA transmitted four important documents to the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) for peer review that included updated health assessments for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). This peer review, which will start on December 16, will inform EPA’s development of a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) Goal and a future, legally enforceable National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As noted in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024, EPA intends to release a proposed drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFOS in fall 2022. These scientific documents will provide the underpinnings for that important regulation.
Continue Reading ICYMI: EPA Takes a Big Science Step Towards Setting a Drinking Water Standard for PFOA and PFOS and the Implications Are Much Broader
This insights column, originally published in Chemical Watch, provides a refresher on the important distinctions between hazard and risk based approaches and discusses them in the context of the findings of the EPA TSCA risk evaluations. The completed TSCA risk evaluations make findings of “no unreasonable risk” or presents “unreasonable risk” for each condition of use evaluated that is evaluated. However, EPA is considering modifying the existing findings, and the approach for future risk evaluations. This column discusses what this might look like and whether this planned approach is consistent with the 2016 Lautenberg Amendments to TSCA.
Continue Reading Does putting a label on a ‘whole substance’ make sense from a public health perspective?