The EPA intends to start tracking releases of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and determine the potential impact. To do that, the EPA will use the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to track the 160 PFAS chemicals recently added to list of toxic chemicals (EPCRA Section 313 and PPA Section 6607).
What is PFAS?
Everywhere you look in the world of environmental regulatory news, there is one topic that is dominating most of the conversation, PFAS. So, what are PFAS and how do they affect your facility?
PFAS are man-made organic compounds, meaning that they do not occur naturally in the environment. PFAS chemicals have very strong bonds between carbon and fluorine atoms which makes them ideal for manufactured goods like firefighting foam, paint, non-stick pans, and repellant products, etc. However, this bond also means that these substances do not degrade easily and will accumulate in the environment and within our own bodies.
The PFAS group of chemicals also include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and GenX (DuPont trademarked PFOA replacement) chemicals. There were numerous processes and products that contained these chemicals. Examples of products include non-stick cookware (PFOA) and stain repellants (PFOS). In the United States, manufacturers phased out PFOA and PFOS, the two most studied PFAS chemicals. However, there are over 4,700 PFAS chemicals and products are still produced and imported into the U.S. that contain these chemicals. Additionally, PFAS chemicals may degrade after disposal to a PFOA or PFOS, but ultimately the remnants of these chemicals remain in the environment.
How will this affect my facility’s TRI Reporting?
It is important to note that the toxicity and impact of each PFAS varies. There is still a great deal about individual PFAS that are undetermined. For instance, an acceptable range of discharge, ecological exposure, and human consumption or exposure levels will need to be evaluated for each substance.
Currently, there are no PFAS chemicals on the 2019 list of toxic chemicals. However, due to the approval of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 on December 20, 2019, 160 PFAS chemicals were added to the 2020 reporting year TRI list of toxic chemicals. While there are some exceptions and limitations, this change affects TRI recording and reporting for many industrial processes and waste disposal facilities for 2020 data.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also developed an action plan to address PFAS, however more information is still needed. The EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the Federal Register on December 4, 2019 for a 60-day public comment period. The EPA would like to collect information regarding the addition of certain PFAS to the TRI list of toxic chemicals (EPCRA Section 313 and PPA Section 6607). Comment deadline is February 3, 2020.
Affected facilities listed by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes in the following table includes Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes 20 through 39.
Affected facilities listed by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes in the following table includes various Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes.
For further developments on the EPA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the addition of certain PFAS to the TRI list of toxic chemicals, follow future blog posts by Evora Consulting or contact one of our representatives here.
Additional Links and Sources:
- EPA Federal Register https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/advance-notice-proposed-rulemaking-adding-certain-pfas-tri
- EPA Basic Information on PFAS https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas
- EPA List of PFAS added to the TRI by the NDAA https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/list-pfas-added-tri-ndaa
- EPA TRI-Covered Industry Sectors https://www.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program/tri-covered-industry-sectors
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences PFAS page https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/pfc/index.cfm