To get a better grip on the amount and location of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency is turning to companies that manufacture or handle these persistent chemicals.
A proposal from the EPA would require companies to provide information on how much PFAS they’ve produced, imported, and processed in the US since 2011. The proposed rule, released June 10, also seeks details about how these compounds were and are used and disposed of. In addition, it would require companies to hand over data on worker exposure to PFAS and the chemicals’ environmental and health effects. Some, but not all, PFAS are linked to adverse health effects.
If finalized, the proposal would provide the EPA with comprehensive data on more than 1,000 PFAS, the agency says.
Water utilities, environmental advocates, and community groups have urged the EPA to collect this sort of information using its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act. A representative of the American Water Works Association told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at a June 9 hearing that such data would help state regulators pinpoint areas likely to have PFAS-contaminated drinking water. An increasing number of communities across the US face water supplies tainted with toxic forms of PFAS stemming from industrial or military activities.
An EPA spokesperson tells C&EN in a statement that the agency is soliciting data on the presence of PFAS in wastewater discharges from facilities that make or formulate the chemicals. The EPA will then evaluate whether regulation is warranted to control the release of PFAS via industrial wastewater.