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Chemical Regulation

US EPA restricts certain PFAS imports

by Britt E. Erickson
June 26, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 25


Photo of a person applying wax to a snow ski.
Credit: Shutterstock
PFAS are used in some ski waxes.

The US Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule June 22 that requires companies to notify the agency before making or importing products containing certain long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The rule applies to products coated with PFAS including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid. When the EPA first proposed the rule in 2015, the restrictions would have applied to all products containing long-chain PFAS, not just those coated with the chemicals. Environmental groups, state attorneys general, and a senior Democrat in Congress, Sen. Tom Carper, all criticized the EPA in April for watering down the rule. The PFAS chemicals subject to the rule are linked to cancer and immune disorders. They are found in numerous household products, including appliances, electronics, furniture, carpets, and ski wax, according to the EPA. US manufacturers phased out the use of most long-chain PFAS 5 years ago. The EPA says that the new rule is necessary to level the playing field for companies that voluntarily stopped using the chemicals. Without the rule, companies could have started using the substances again without notifying the EPA.


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