October 26, 2023

EPA Rule Eliminates Exemption That Allowed Facilities to Avoid Reporting on Small Concentrations of PFAS

A rule finalized by EPA on Oct. 20 is intended to improve reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory, which tracks the management of toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to health and the environment. Information compiled in TRI comes from U.S. facilities that are required to report annually how much of each chemical covered by the TRI program is released into the environment or managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. EPA’s new rule removes an exemption that had allowed facilities to avoid reporting relevant information on PFAS when used in small concentrations. PFAS belong to a class of synthetic chemicals nicknamed “forever chemicals,” which refers to their long-term persistence in humans and the environment.

“PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products,” EPA’s press release explains. “[As] a result of removing this reporting exemption, covered industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, and chemical manufacturing, as well as federal facilities that make or use any of the 189 TRI-listed PFAS, will no longer be able to avoid disclosing the quantities of PFAS they manage or release into the environment.”

Under the new rule, facilities are required to report on PFAS regardless of their concentration in mixtures. According to EPA, removing the previous exemption helps ensure that downstream facilities that purchase mixtures and trade-name products containing PFAS will be informed of the chemicals’ presence.

A pre-publication version of the final rule is available as a PDF from EPA’s website. Supporting materials will be available once the rule is published in the Federal Register. More information about the rule is available from an EPA webpage that outlines changes to TRI reporting requirements for PFAS.

Related: Articles published last year in The Synergist explore challenges in researching and managing exposure to PFAS as well as how product stewardship professionals are helping companies manage regulatory requirements and risks related to PFAS..