Black frying pans with a non-stick teflon coating on black background

CPSC Sets its Sights on PFAS in Consumer Products, Bringing Future Regulation into Focus

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently published a request for information (RFI) on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) “used in commerce or potentially used in consumer products,” and as directed toward information on “potential exposures associated with the use of PFAS in consumer products, and potential human health effects associated with exposures to PFAS from their use in consumer products.”

This RFI concerns “consumer products” which includes products used in, or around, the home or school that are subject to CPSC jurisdiction under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), 15 U.S.C. 2051 et seq., Federal Hazardous Substances Act, 15 U.S.C. 1261 et seq., and other statutes administered by CPSC. Cosmetics, drugs, and pesticides generally are not within CPSC’s jurisdiction under the CPSA. In support of this RFI, CPSC released a contract report/white paper entitled “Characterizing PFAS Chemistries, Sources, Uses, and Regulatory Trends in U.S. and International Markets.” 

As our readers know, PFAS have a variety of applications, including in non-stick cookware; water-repellent and stain resistant clothing, carpets and other fabrics; some cosmetics; and common home products such as cleaning supplies, waxes, coatings, adhesives, paints, and sealants. Relatedly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among other data sources, indicate that there are thousands of different PFAS that could be registered on U.S. or global chemical inventories and are potentially in commerce, hundreds of PFAS with reported use information from U.S. or international sources, and several dozen PFAS that are more commonly measured in consumer products, the environment, or in people.

This RFI includes information on the use or potential use of PFAS in consumer products, including information on the definition of PFAS; specific PFAS not already included in the contract report that are potentially used or present in consumer products; and information to help CPSC prioritize assessments of PFAS and consumer products. 

Other information requested includes data focused on potential human exposure to PFAS associated with the use of consumer products: information on emission of PFAS from consumer products in an indoor environment; migration of PFAS from consumer products into saliva, gastrointestinal fluid or skin; exposure pathways from the presence of PFAS in consumer products; data on PFAS intake, uptake, clearance, half-life or occurrence in people; data on relative source contribution of consumer products; and information on population groups that may use certain consumer products at a greater rate. 

Lastly, the RFI requests information, reports, and data on potential adverse human health effects (e.g., human or animal studies on known exposures and observed effects). 

Although this RFI “does not constitute or propose regulatory action,” but rather is informational, it is important to note that CPSC’s contract report states generally that more regulation is needed: “…additional regulations are necessary to protect human health and the environment, provide consumers with products that are safe for use, and ensure that industry and product manufacturers have clear requirements so that they can appropriately substitute PFAS with safer alternatives that meet performance standards.” And the contract report’s conclusion further predicts increased scrutiny on PFAS and expected regulation: “Reduction and, ultimately, elimination of PFAS use in consumer products and other applications would reduce human exposure and associated adverse health outcomes.” 

Written comments to the RFI must be submitted by November 20, 2023.