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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our June 28, 2021, blog item, on June 28, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 86 Fed. Reg. 33926. EPA announced on July 29, 2021, that it is extending the comment deadline to September 27, 2021. EPA will announce the extension of the comment deadline in the Federal Register.
 
The proposed rule would require certain persons that manufacture (including import) or have manufactured PFAS in any year since January 1, 2011, to report information electronically regarding PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards. EPA requests public comment on all aspects of the proposed rule and states that it has also identified the following items “of particular interest for public input”:

  • Identifying the chemical substances that would be subject to reporting;
  • Considerations for EPA’s economic analysis: EPA is specifically seeking additional information and data that EPA could consider in developing the final economic analysis;
  • Submission period: EPA proposes a six-month submission period for reporting entities that would begin six months following the effective date of the final rule;
  • Duplicative reporting: EPA requests comment on whether any additional data elements may be duplicative of information collected by EPA under TSCA or other federal statutes;
  • Scope of environmental and health effects information collected: EPA requests comment on what existing environmental and health effects information should be within the scope of the rule;
  • Additional information or data elements: EPA states that it is interested in comments on whether the final rule should include a data field allowing reporters to provide generic names or descriptions in the event a manufacturer is aware they have produced or imported a PFAS but are not able to ascertain reasonably the specific PFAS identity. EPA is also requesting comments on additional data elements such as composition information if a PFAS has a variable composition, analytical methods, and whether occupational exposure information should distinguish occupational nonusers (i.e., those nearby but not in direct contact with the chemical) from workers (i.e., those who are in direct contact with the chemical);
  • EPA’s use and publication of certain non-confidential business information (CBI) data;
  • Joint submissions: EPA is requesting public comment on whether it should enable the use of joint submissions in specific circumstances, similar to Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) joint submissions; and
  • Small manufacturers: EPA is requesting public comment on how it may assist small manufacturers with compliance with the proposed rule.

More information is available in our June 11, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Announces Three PFAS Actions, Including Proposed TSCA Section 8(a) Reporting Rule.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On July 14, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a stewardship program to encourage the voluntary withdrawal of previously granted low volume exemptions (LVE) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to EPA, the goal of the PFAS LVE Stewardship Program is to stop the ongoing manufacture of PFAS under previously approved LVEs that have not gone through the full pre-manufacture review process under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA will hold a webinar on July 29, 2021, to provide an overview of the program.
 
EPA states that there are approximately 600 PFAS with currently granted LVEs. Through the program, EPA intends to work with trade associations, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and companies to encourage voluntary withdrawal of the LVEs. According to EPA, it based the new program on a 2016 outreach effort that resulted in companies withdrawing more than half of the 82 long-chain PFAS LVEs that were targeted for voluntary withdrawal at the time.
 
To participate in the program, companies with previously granted PFAS LVEs may choose to withdraw voluntarily their LVEs and certify that they will no longer manufacture or import those PFAS. Alternatively, companies may choose to withdraw voluntarily their LVEs following submission and review of a pre-manufacture notice (PMN), “which will provide for a robust safety review and the imposition of appropriate and enforceable protections for human health and the environment.” EPA states that it will provide recognition of program participants on its website.

Tags: PFAS, LVE, Review

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 28, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 86 Fed. Reg. 33926. EPA proposes to require certain persons that manufacture (including import) or have manufactured PFAS in any year since January 1, 2011, to report information electronically regarding PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards. EPA requests public comment on all aspects of the proposed rule and states that it has also identified the following items “of particular interest for public input”:

  • Identifying the chemical substances that would be subject to reporting;
  • Considerations for EPA’s economic analysis: EPA is specifically seeking additional information and data that EPA could consider in developing the final economic analysis;
  • Submission period: EPA proposes a six-month submission period for reporting entities that would begin six months following the effective date of the final rule;
  • Duplicative reporting: EPA requests comment on whether any additional data elements may be duplicative of information collected by EPA under TSCA or other federal statutes;
  • Scope of environmental and health effects information collected: EPA requests comment on what existing environmental and health effects information should be within the scope of the rule;
  • Additional information or data elements: EPA states that it is interested in comments on whether the final rule should include a data field allowing reporters to provide generic names or descriptions in the event a manufacturer is aware they have produced or imported a PFAS but are not able to ascertain reasonably the specific PFAS identity. EPA is also requesting comments on additional data elements such as composition information if a PFAS has a variable composition, analytical methods, and whether occupational exposure information should distinguish occupational nonusers (i.e., those nearby but not in direct contact with the chemical) from workers (i.e., those who are in direct contact with the chemical);
  • EPA’s use and publication of certain non-confidential business information (CBI) data;
  • Joint submissions: EPA is requesting public comment on whether it should enable the use of joint submissions in specific circumstances, similar to Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) joint submissions; and
  • Small manufacturers: EPA is requesting public comment on how it may assist small manufacturers with compliance with the proposed rule.

Comments are due August 27, 2021. EPA states that “[‌u]nder the Paperwork Reduction Act, comments on the information collection provisions are best assured of consideration if the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) receives a copy of your comments on or before July 28, 2021.” More information is available in our June 11, 2021, memorandum, “EPA Announces Three PFAS Actions, Including Proposed TSCA Section 8(a) Reporting Rule.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on June 10, 2021, three actions intended to protect communities from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The actions include proposing a rule designed to obtain comprehensive data on more than 1,000 PFAS manufactured in the United States, withdrawing guidance that EPA believes weakened its July 2020 significant new use rule (SNUR) restricting certain long-chain PFAS, and publishing a final rule that incorporates three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) maintained under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Below is a brief summary of the actions. More detailed information and an insightful commentary are available in our forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.

Proposed TSCA Rule to Require Reporting on PFAS Manufactured in the United States

The fiscal year 2020 (FY2020) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to add Section 8(a)(7), mandating that EPA promulgate a rule “requiring each person who has manufactured a chemical substance that is a [PFAS] in any year since January 1, 2011” to report certain information. EPA’s proposed rule would require all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS in any year since 2011 to report information related to chemical identity, categories of use, volumes manufactured and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure, and disposal. EPA states that the proposed rule will help it better understand the sources and quantities of PFAS manufactured in the United States and support its research, monitoring, and regulatory efforts. Publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register will begin a 60-day comment period.

Withdrawing Compliance Guide on PFAS SNUR

In accordance with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Orders and other directives, including those on environmental justice, scientific integrity, and regulatory review, EPA states that it has withdrawn a compliance guide that EPA believes weakened the July 27, 2020, final SNUR for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances (85 Fed. Reg. 45109). The final rule prohibits companies from importing certain long-chain PFAS as part of a “surface coating” on articles without prior EPA review and approval. EPA states that examples of articles that could contain these PFAS as part of a surface coating include, but are not limited to, automotive parts, carpet, furniture, and electronic components.

As reported in our January 20, 2021, blog item, EPA issued the compliance guide in January 2021 in the last days of the previous Administration and limited what would be considered a “surface coating” subject to the SNUR. EPA states that “[t]he guide was never deemed necessary by career staff and its development was directed by political officials serving in the last Administration.” Additionally, EPA prepared the final guide without considering or addressing comments submitted by the public. After further review, EPA “determined that the guide inappropriately narrowed the scope and weakened the prohibitions included in the SNUR.”

Implementing NDAA Requirements to Report PFAS to TRI

The NDAA provided a framework for additional PFAS to be added to TRI on an annual basis. For TRI Reporting Year 2021 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2022), the NDAA automatically added three PFAS to the TRI list because they are now subject to a SNUR under TSCA. EPA issued a final rule on June 3, 2021, incorporating these requirements into the Code of Federal Regulations for TRI (86 Fed. Reg. 29698). Per the NDAA requirements, the PFAS additions became effective as of January 1, 2021. Reporting forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2022, for calendar year 2021 data.

Tags: PFAS, SNUR, Section 8, TRI,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 27, 2021, “important policy shifts in its review of new [per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)] before they can enter the market.”  According to EPA, although some new PFAS have been allowed to enter the market through low volume exemptions (LVE), EPA’s New Chemicals Program is implementing a new strategy for reviewing and managing LVE requests for PFAS.  EPA states that due to the scientific complexities associated with assessing PFAS, and the hazard potential associated with various sub-classes of PFAS, “it is challenging to conduct an appropriately robust review of LVE requests for PFAS in the 30 days the regulations allow.”  Under the regulations, EPA can deny LVE requests if it finds the chemical may cause serious human health effects or significant environmental effects or when issues concerning toxicity or exposure require review that cannot be completed in 30 days.  According to EPA, “[g]iven the complexity of PFAS chemistry, potential health effects, and their longevity and persistence in the environment, an LVE submission for a PFAS is unlikely to be eligible for this kind of exemption under the regulations.”  While EPA will consider each LVE application individually, it “generally expects” that it will deny pending and new LVE submissions for PFAS.  This will allow EPA more time to conduct a more thorough review and, as appropriate, “put measures in place to mitigate the potential risk of these chemicals as the agency determines whether to allow them to enter commerce.”  EPA states that in addition, it is “exploring ways to work cooperatively with companies to voluntarily withdraw previously granted LVEs.”  EPA states that this “would build upon a 2016 outreach effort that resulted in companies withdrawing more than half of the 82 long-chain PFAS LVEs that existed at the time.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 8, 2021, that it is releasing an updated toxicity assessment for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), which is a member of the group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  EPA states that this PFBS assessment is part of its commitment to restore scientific integrity to all of the Agency’s actions and increase the amount of research and information available to the public on PFAS.  According to EPA’s announcement, “EPA, federal agencies, states, tribes, and local communities can use the PFBS toxicity assessment, along with specific exposure and other relevant information, to determine if and when it is necessary to take action to address potential health risks associated with human exposures to PFBS under appropriate regulations and statutes.”  EPA notes that the updated assessment “has gone through all appropriate reviews, includes input EPA received from external peer review, upholds the tenants of scientific integrity, was authored by expert career scientists in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and has not been compromised by political staff -- these were all issues with a version of the assessment that was posted during the previous administration.  The release of today’s PFBS assessment upholds the integrity of EPA’s science, which EPA, states, tribes, and more rely on to make decisions that protect the health of their communities.”
 
According to EPA’s fact sheet on the toxicity assessment, PFBS is a replacement chemical for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a PFAS that was voluntarily phased out by the primary U.S. manufacturer by 2002.  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 fact sheet states that the PFBS toxicity assessment is comparable to assessments developed under EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and Provisional Peer-Reviewed Toxicity Value (PPRTV) Programs in that it provides hazard identification, dose-response information, and toxicity values.  EPA will continue to work with state, tribal, and local partners to provide technical assistance as they consider the final PFBS toxicity values in relevant exposure scenarios.  The fact sheet notes that at this time, EPA does not plan to issue a regulation for PFBS.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On March 1, 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly released a report entitled Man-Made Chemicals and Potential Health Risks:  EPA Has Completed Some Regulatory-Related Actions for PFAS.  GAO was asked to examine the status of regulatory-related actions in EPA’s 2019 Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan.  GAO found that EPA completed three of six selected regulatory-related actions for addressing PFAS outlined in the PFAS Action Plan.  For two of the three completed actions, the steps EPA took were also in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 (FY20 NDAA):

  • After proposing a supplemental significant new use rule (SNUR) in February 2020, EPA met a June 2020 deadline set in the FY20 NDAA when the EPA Administrator signed the final rule.  Among other things, under the final rule, articles containing certain PFAS as a surface coating, and carpet containing certain PFAS, can no longer be imported into the United States without EPA review; and
     
  • EPA incorporated 172 PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory in June 2020.  The FY20 NDAA directed EPA to take this action, extending EPA’s original planned action to explore data for listing PFAS chemicals to the inventory.

Finally, in March 2020, EPA completed a third regulatory-related action, not required under the FY20 NDAA, when it proposed a preliminary drinking water regulatory determination for two PFAS, “an initial step toward regulating these chemicals in drinking water.”
According to GAO, three of the six selected regulatory-related actions are ongoing, and EPA’s progress on these actions varies:

  • As of August 2020, EPA was developing a proposed rulemaking for a nationwide drinking water monitoring rule that includes PFAS, which EPA officials stated that EPA intends to issue in final by December 2021;
     
  • EPA is currently examining available information about PFAS discharges to surface water to identify industrial sources that may warrant further study for potential regulation through EPA’s National Effluent Limitations Guidelines.  EPA expects to publish a final Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 14 in early 2021 that will include an update on the current status of EPA’s multi-industry study; and
     
  • EPA plans to continue the regulatory process for designating two PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which would allow EPA to require responsible parties to conduct or pay for cleanup.  On January 14, 2021, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for the hazardous substances designation to obtain public comment and data to inform EPA’s ongoing evaluation of the two PFAS.
Tags: GAO, PFAS, Water, CERCLA

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On February 4, 2021, the ad hoc committee appointed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) to consider current evidence regarding human health effects of the most widely studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will hold its first meeting.  The National Academies will provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) “an objective and authoritative review of current evidence regarding human health effects of those PFAS being monitored in the CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.”  The National Academies will also provide recommendations regarding potential changes to CDC and ATSDR PFAS clinical guidance, including:

  • Options and considerations to guide decision-making for PFAS testing in a patient’s blood or urine;
  • PFAS concentrations that could inform clinical care of exposed patients; and
  • Appropriate patient follow-up and care specific to PFAS-associated health endpoints for those patients known or suspected to be exposed to PFAS.

The committee will host multiple town hall events in the spring and summer 2021 to hear from PFAS-impacted communities.  The National Academies intends to release the final report in 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 22, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the reasons for its denial of a petition requesting it to require health and environmental effects testing on 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  86 Fed. Reg. 6602.  The petition sought issuance of a rule or order under TSCA Section 4 compelling The Chemours Company (Chemours) to fund and carry out this testing under the direction of a panel of independent scientists.  EPA states that it finds the petitioners have not provided the facts necessary for it to determine for each of the 54 PFAS that “existing information and experience are insufficient and testing of such substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.”  After “careful consideration,” EPA denied the TSCA petition for the following reasons:

  • Insufficient Information and Experience:  According to EPA, the petition does not set forth the facts necessary to demonstrate that there is “insufficient information and experience” for each of the 54 PFAS.  The petitioners state, in part, “[f]or the 54 PFAS, the sufficiency of available information should be determined by comparing available data with the known adverse effects of other PFAS.  The goal should be to conduct a scientifically sound assessment of each of the 54 chemicals for the critical toxic endpoints that have been identified in studies on [perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)], [perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)] and other well-characterized studies.”  EPA states that the petitioners do not provide evidence that they conducted an assessment to support a finding of insufficient information and experience, however;
     
  • Testing of Such Substance or Mixture with Respect to Such Effects Is Necessary to Develop Such Information:  According to EPA, the petitioners do not demonstrate “testing of such substance or mixture with respect to such effects is necessary to develop such information.”  EPA finds that the petitioners failed to address ongoing testing and data collections for some of the 54 PFAS, thereby failing to set forth facts that are necessary to establish there is a need for the testing sought in the petition.  According to EPA, this research may provide information that overlaps with testing the petitioners requested, which would render the information unnecessary under TSCA Section 4(a)(1)(A)(i)(III);
     
  • Class-Based Approach to Testing:  TSCA Section 4(h)(1)(B)(ii) “encourage[s]” EPA to consider “the grouping of 2 or more chemical substances into scientifically appropriate categories in cases in which testing of a chemical substance would provide scientifically valid and useful information on other chemical substances in the category.”  EPA states that it “is currently investigating ways to group similar PFAS by likeness into subcategories for purposes of research, data collection, hazard determinations, and other activities.”  EPA notes that it collaborated with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) “to construct a PFAS screening library subset composed of 75 PFAS on a structural category basis and considerations such as structural diversity within a category, data availability, and read-across category-level weight (e.g., value of substance for anchoring read-across trends within a category, serving as an analog); four of the 54 PFAS the petitioners identify are included in this subset.”  While the petitioners mention this effort, they “incorrectly state that just two of the 54 PFAS the petitioners cover are included in the EPA testing.”
     
  • Practicability of National Academy of Sciences Oversight:  The petitioners also request that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) oversee all aspects of the proposed testing program.  EPA states that it “finds such an oversight arrangement is not within the scope of what a TSCA section 21 petitioner can request when seeking the initiation of a rule or the issuance of an order under TSCA section 4.”  Furthermore, according to EPA, projects and studies must meet certain conditions for the NAS to accept private funding.  EPA concludes that it is not in a position to require NAS to oversee the testing requested by the petitioners, and the petitioners provide no administrative or organizational procedures for implementation.
     
  • Selection of PFAS for Health and Environmental Effects Testing:  The petitioners divide the 54 PFAS at issue into Tier 1 substances “for which there is known human exposure based on detection in blood, food or drinking water,” and Tier 2 substances “for which human exposure is probable based on detection in environmental media.”  According to EPA, the petitioners do not set forth facts showing that for all 40 PFAS it ranks as Tier 2 substances “human exposure is probable based on detection in environmental media” or that “a strong inference of exposure can be drawn from their presence in surface water, stormwater, wastewater, sediment, groundwater, soil, private wells, and/or air emissions,” however.
     
  • Scientific Standards:  EPA states that it “finds the petitioners have not evaluated the quality of the data they have provided or indicated how they conducted their searches, evaluated the quality of the sources, or indicated what gaps were located and then explained why the specific tests requested, as compared to others, would provide the data being sought.”  According to EPA, such an evaluation is necessary for EPA to conduct the considerations under TSCA Section 26(h).
     
  • Vertebrate Testing:  TSCA Section 4(h) requires that EPA reduce and replace the use of vertebrate animals in the testing of chemical substances under TSCA Section 4.  EPA states that it must consider “as appropriate and to the extent practicable and scientifically justified, reasonably available existing information, including (i) Toxicity information; (ii) Computational toxicology and bioinformatics; and (iii) High-throughput screening methods and the prediction models of those methods.”

More information on the TSCA Section 21 petition is available in our October 29, 2020, memorandum, “TSCA Section 21 Petition Seeks Section 4 Test Rule for 54 PFAS.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of a final compliance guide that outlines which imported articles are covered by EPA’s July 2020 final significant new use rule (SNUR) that prohibits companies from manufacturing, importing, processing, or using certain long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) without prior EPA review and approval.  The final guide is “the official compliance guide for imported articles that may contain long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical substances as part of a surface coating.”  Specifically, the guide provides additional clarity on what is meant by a “surface coating,” identifies which entities are regulated, describes the activities that are required or prohibited, and summarizes the notification requirements of the final SNUR.  EPA states that there “are no significant changes between the final guidance document and the draft document, which was released for public comment in December.”  More information on the draft compliance guide is available in our December 14, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Draft Compliance Guide Addressing Surface Coatings under PFAS SNUR.”  Comments on the draft guide were due January 15, 2021.


 
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