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Consumer Safety

US safety commission seeks data on PFAS in consumer products

Agency requests exposure and toxicity information from stakeholders

by Britt E. Erickson
September 29, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 32

 

A water repellant fabric with beads of water.
Credit: Shutterstock
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking information on the uses and hazards of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in household products like raincoats.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is casting a wide net in search of information on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in household products like cleaners, frying pans, and raincoats.

In a Sept. 20 Federal Register notice, the agency asks consumers, manufacturers and importers, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and researchers to help fill in data gaps on the presence of PFAS in consumer products, the potential for people to be exposed to PFAS in those products, and the potential adverse health effects associated with use of the products.

The CPSC is also asking stakeholders to weigh in on which chemicals should and should not be considered PFAS. The request is meant to inform the commission and the public, but it is not a regulatory action, the CPSC says.

The request follows publication of a report that provides a snapshot of regulatory and market trends related to the use of PFAS. The report, prepared by the nonprofit research institute RTI International for the CPSC, identifies 16,229 PFAS, of which 863 are used in consumer products. The report also finds industrial-use information for 387 PFAS, data on human-health risks for 83 PFAS, and restrictions or regulations in the US or internationally for 30 PFAS.

The CPSC has the authority to regulate or ban hazardous chemicals in consumer products. It rarely does so, but in the past 15 years it has cracked down on a few classes of chemicals, including phthalates, heavy metals, and organohalogen flame retardants.

Lawyers who work with the chemical industry are not surprised by the CPSC’s request for information (RFI). “Given the federal government’s hyperfocus on PFAS, the RFI is entirely predictable,” the law firm Bergeson & Campbell writes in a commentary published Sept. 25. “The granularity of the requests, however, particularly the toxicity and exposure data, raises questions about how willing entities will be in sharing these data.”

The CPSC is accepting public input until Nov. 20.

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