September 15, 2022

EPA Proposes to Designate PFOA and PFOS as Hazardous Substances

A new proposed rule would designate two perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under CERCLA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, which is also known as Superfund. The rule would apply to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), as well as their salts and structural isomers.

Designation as a CERCLA hazardous substance requires entities responsible for PFOA and PFOS to immediately inform federal, state, and local authorities of any release of these chemicals that meets or exceeds the “reportable quantity.” EPA has set the reportable quantity for PFOA and PFOS at one pound in a 24-hour period. Entities potentially affected by the rule include manufacturers and processors of PFOA and PFOS, manufacturers of products that contain these chemicals, downstream manufacturers and users, and waste management and wastewater treatment facilities.

Currently, there are approximately 800 CERCLA hazardous substances. A full list is available on the EPA website.

According to the EPA website, which published the proposed rule in the Federal Register on Sept. 6, the rule would “increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.” The agency states that PFOA and PFOS may present “a substantial danger to human health or welfare and the environment.”

For more information, download the rule as a PDF.

Related: Two recent articles in The Synergist discuss PFAS. In the March 2022 issue, “Chasing a Changing Chemical Market” discusses the challenges of researching and managing exposure to PFAS. And in the September 2022 issue, “The Challenges of PFAS” explores the complexities of PFAS-related regulations worldwide.