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EPA Adds Four PFAS to Toxics Release Inventory as Part of the PFAS Roadmap

As our blog recently reported, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an ambitious national strategy to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) over the next three years. Dubbed a “roadmap,” the EPA says that it is centered on three guiding strategies focused on research, restrictions, and remediation: “Increase investments in research, leverage authorities to take action now to restrict PFAS chemicals from being released into the environment, and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination.” As part of this plan, the EPA announced the automatic addition of four new PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory list.

The Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides the framework for adding additional PFAS to the toxic release inventory (TRI) each year. Among other provisions, section 7321(c) of the NDAA identifies certain regulatory activities that automatically add PFAS or classes of PFAS to the TRI beginning January 1 the following year, and the agency’s finalization of a toxicity value is one of the triggering actions.

In April 2021, the EPA finalized a toxicity value for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) (Chemical Abstracts Service registry number (CASRN) 375-73-5) and potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (CASRN 29420-49-3); therefore, these substances have been added to the TRI. The EPA says that “PFBS-based compounds are replacement chemicals for PFOS [perfluorooctane sulfonic acid], a chemical that was voluntarily phased out by the primary U.S. manufacturer by 2002” and that “PFBS has been identified in the environment and consumer products, including surface water, wastewater, drinking water, dust, carpeting and carpet cleaners, and floor wax.” The other two added PFAS chemicals can be found at the following links: CASRN 65104-45-2 and CASRN 203743-03-7.

Facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use chemicals listed on the TRI report such data annually to the EPA. The data include quantities of such chemicals that were released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. According to the EPA, “Information collected through the TRI allows communities to learn how facilities in their area are managing listed chemicals” and “help inform EPA’s efforts to better understand the listed substances.” Facilities subject to reporting requirements for these chemicals are required to begin tracking activities as of January 1, 2022, according to the requirements of Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The reporting forms are due July 1, 2023, for the 2022 calendar year.

Accompanying this most recent press release, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michal Freedhoff, iterated the government’s dedication to PFAS: “We will use every tool in our toolbox to protect our communities from PFAS pollution.” He further stated that, “Requiring companies to report on how these PFAS are being managed, recycled, or released is an important part of EPA’s comprehensive plan to fill critical data gaps for these chemicals and take meaningful action to safeguard communities from PFAS.”

The EPA announced that it will soon release a series of PFAS test orders that will require PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on these substances. We will provide a further update as information becomes available.