EPA Proposes New Regulations on PFAS Chemicals


As a part of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, the agency recently proposed regulations on imported products that contain certain persistent long-chain PFAS chemicals that are used as surface coatings.

While the EPA believes the use of these chemicals as surface coatings in imported goods has been phased out, this proposal would ensure that any new uses are reviewed by EPA before any products containing these chemicals could be imported into the United States again.

“Today’s action would close a loophole that currently allows new uses of products that include certain PFAS chemicals as part of surface coatings that have been phased out in the United States to be imported into our country,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“This action, along with many other critical steps we’ve taken over the past year, continues to demonstrate EPA’s commitment to protecting public health and aggressively addressing these chemicals in the United States.”

As part of the agency’s review, EPA has the authority to place restrictions on the import of products containing these chemicals as part of a surface coating.

The proposal clarifies the categories of products that would be covered under the significant new use rule. This clarification aligns the regulation with the Toxic Substances Control Act, according to the agency.

“This supplemental proposal would require importers to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the import of these chemical substances in certain articles for the significant new use described in this document,” the docket states.

“The required significant new use notification would initiate EPA's evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the intended significant new use. Manufacturing (including import) or processing for the significant new use would be prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.”

The proposal was officially published on March 3, and the EPA is taking comments until April 17.

PFAS Background

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX and many other chemicals that have been manufactured since the 1940s.

They are used in consumer products and industrial processes and are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease and water—properties which contribute to their persistence in the environment and in the human body.

According to the EPA, studies indicate that the chemicals can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals.

  • The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:
  • low infant birth weights;
  • effects on the immune system;
  • cancer (for PFOA); and
  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

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