By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release announcing a final agreement with Swix Sport USA (Swix) resolving Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) violations associated with the importation of noncompliant ski wax products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to the press release, Swix agrees to pay a fine and develop a $1 million educational program to raise awareness in ski communities about PFAS chemicals in ski waxes. EPA states that Swix violated the TSCA Premanufacturing Notice requirements and Import Certification requirements when it imported ski wax products containing six different PFAS chemicals on at least 83 occasions that were not included on the TSCA Inventory or otherwise exempt for commercial purposes. Once the chemicals were identified, Swix immediately ceased importation of the products containing the PFAS substances and quarantined products in its control in the United States.
Under the terms of the settlement, Swix has agreed to spend approximately $1 million to develop and implement an outreach and training program referred to as a Responsible Waxing Project (RWP) and pay a $375,625 civil penalty. The RWP is aimed at: (1) educating the ski racing community about PFAS chemicals in racing waxes and their impact on the environment; and (2) promoting the use of wax alternatives with lower environmental impact, including but not limited to racing waxes that are PFAS-free. Another objective of the RWP is to educate and motivate the ski racing community to phase out (and ultimately eliminate) the use of PFAS-containing waxes in ski racing beginning with the 2020 ski season.
EPA notes that the RWP has several elements, including an education and training component for ski wax technicians on the proper disposal of racing wax shavings and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during the waxing process. Other RWP elements include:
- PFAS ski wax education program, including two on-site presentations at a major ski event that attracts more than 10,000 participants;
- Training for wax technicians on the proper use of PPE, proper ventilation, and proper disposal of wax shavings;
- Program for ski wax coaches available online and used at on-site presentations at a minimum of ten events designed for coach certifications;
- Additional outreach to college racing teams and clubs that educates high school and college level skiers about the RWP content;
- A dedicated Swix project manager who oversees the project to completion;
- Website development for all videos created as part of the settlement for technicians, coaches, and teams; and
- Distribution of PFAS alternative wax information materials at a minimum of 50 ski sites.
EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board approved the consent agreement and final order on May 13, 2020.