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EPA sets timetable for PFAS action

EPA sets timetable for PFAS action

By Jacob Holzman, CQ Roll Call

(May 28, 2019) – The Environmental Protection Agency has outlined the timetable for making decisions this year on regulating controversial per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are known as “forever” chemicals due to their durability in the environment.


The agency projected last week that, by year’s end, it will issue notices of proposed rulemaking on whether it should regulate two forms of PFAS as hazardous substances under the nation’s Superfund law, and whether it should require industrial and federal facilities to report releases of certain PFAS chemicals to the environment.


As previously announced by the agency, it will also make a determination by the end of the year on whether to set enforceable drinking water standards for the two PFAS chemicals, PFOS and PFOA.


Used for decades to manufacture a litany of consumer goods and industrial products, PFAS chemicals are known for their persistence in the environment and ability to accumulate in the human body. Exposure to PFOS and PFOA has been linked to causing a number of health issues including different forms of cancer. While concerns over health led to industry phasing the two chemicals out of U.S. production, they remain persistent in the environment.


A bipartisan chorus of congressional lawmakers have been calling for expedited PFAS regulation for the better part of a year. State regulators have found drinking water systems across the country contaminated by PFOS, PFOA and other forms of the chemical, adding urgency to the issue.


However, the specific type of regulatory mechanism noted by the agency — a notice of proposed rulemaking — means the agency is likely far away from releasing specific proposals to regulate the chemicals.


When it released its PFAS Action Plan in February, the agency was vague on what its next steps would be in terms of administrative procedure. It said it had “initiated the regulatory development process” for listing PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances and development of a proposal to include certain PFAS on reporting requirements was “ongoing.”


By Jacob Holzman, CQ Roll Call


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