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EPA Issues Enforcement Alert Regarding Ski Wax Products Containing Perfluorinated Chemicals
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) issued a January 2022 enforcement alert entitled “Violations May Put Ski Wax Users at Risk from Illegal Perfluoroalkyl Substances.” According to the enforcement alert, EPA has identified several high-performance ski wax consumer products that contain perfluorinated chemicals that were not reviewed by EPA for health risks under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA notes that these wax products are intended for use on sports equipment to enhance the performance of the equipment’s slick surfaces that are in contact with snow. The alert states that:

  • EPA is concerned that recently identified TSCA violations may be putting skiers and wax applicators at risk for exposure to certain persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals; and
     
  • EPA advises sellers of ski wax to ensure that the products they sell do not contain certain perfluorinated chemicals that are not on the TSCA Inventory or have prohibitions on their use in sporting goods.

The enforcement alert states that EPA identified several manufacturers, importers, and sellers that produced or sold ski wax products that included certain perfluorinated chemicals in violation of TSCA, which prohibits the manufacture, processing, or importation of a chemical that is not on the TSCA Inventory or otherwise exempt. TSCA requires anyone who intends to manufacture (including import) a new chemical substance for a non-exempt commercial purpose to submit a premanufacture notice (PMN) at least 90 days prior to the manufacture, import, or processing of the chemical. According to the alert, review of the risks from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in ski waxes “is particularly important in light of the potential for ski wax technicians and recreational skiers who apply waxes to the skis to be exposed to PFAS from handling the waxes and from vapors released when the waxes are melted and applied to skis.” The alert notes that PFAS may enter the environment from the use of waxed skis and from the ski wax shavings scraped off during application.
 
The enforcement alert describes the following best practices for assessing whether a wax product contains a new chemical substance: (1) reviewing the product’s safety data sheet (SDS) and comparing the chemical substances against the TSCA Inventory; (2) contacting manufacturers and suppliers for additional chemical identity information where there is uncertainty regarding whether a chemical is on the TSCA Inventory; and (3) contacting EPA via the TSCA Hotline if it remains unclear whether a chemical substance is on the TSCA Inventory.
 
The enforcement alert provides information on EPA’s Audit Policy, under which regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, expeditiously correct, and take steps to prevent recurrence of potential violations may be eligible for a reduction or elimination of any civil penalties that otherwise might apply. The alert states that most violations can be disclosed and processed via EPA’s automated online “eDisclosure” system. According to the alert, many states also offer incentives for self-policing, and EPA suggests checking with the appropriate state agency for more information.