Chemicals, EHS Administration, Regulatory Developments

EPA Considers Additional PFAS for CERCLA Designation

Last month, the EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) asking the public for input regarding potential future hazardous substance designations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund.

“Today’s announcement highlights EPA’s commitment to transparency and the use of the best available science to tackle PFAS pollution and protect people from exposure to these forever chemicals,” said Barry N. Breen, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, in an Agency press release. “This is a key commitment under the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and will provide an opportunity for a large and diverse group of stakeholders, including the public, state and local governments, Tribes, industry, businesses, environmental groups, and universities, to provide input and help EPA gather the latest science and information regarding PFAS.”

This request for input and information follows the EPA’s September 2022 proposed rule to designate two PFAS—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)—and their salts and structural isomers as hazardous substances under CERCLA. The Agency is currently reviewing comments received on this proposed rule.

Through this ANPRM, the EPA is seeking input on whether to propose to designate additional PFAS, including hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA, sometimes called GenX) and compounds that degrade in the environment by processes such as biodegradation, photolysis, and hydrolysis to form certain PFAS. The EPA is also seeking information on whether some PFAS compounds can or should be designated as a group or category.

The chemicals under consideration are:

  • Seven PFAS, besides PFOA and PFOS, and their salts and structural isomers or some subset thereof, which include:
    • Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), CASRN 375-73-5
    • Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), CASRN 355-46-4
    • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), CASRN 375-95-1
    • HFPO-DA, CASRN 13252-13-6
    • Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) CASRN 375-22-4
    • Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) CASRN 307-24-4
    • Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) CASRN 335-76-2
  • Precursors to PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS listed above
  • Categories of PFAS

PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties, including their resistance to water, grease, and stains. Also known as “forever chemicals” because of their resistance to breaking down in human bodies and the environment, PFAS can accumulate and persist in the human body for long periods of time, and evidence from laboratory animal and human epidemiology studies indicates that exposure to these compounds may lead to cancer and reproductive, developmental, cardiovascular, liver, and immunological effects. Many known and potential sources of PFAS contamination are near communities already overburdened with pollution.

The ANPRM has been published in the Federal Register, and comments will be received under Docket #EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0922 until June 12, 2023.

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