EPA Adds 5 PFAS to Toxic Release Inventory

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2022

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule to update the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemical list last week, identifying five additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) subject to reporting requirements.

The final rule follows the Agency’s January announcement regarding the TRI Reporting Year 2022, which set into motion the requirement for four additional PFAS. Per the final rule issued on July 18, the requirements have officially been incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for TRI.

Additionally, this TRI update provides a conforming edit to the CFR to include a PFAS that met TRI listing requirements under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as of Reporting Year 2021.

Chemical Reporting Background

While the EPA has been reviewing risk evaluations per the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for several years, in February 2021 the Agency received a report evaluating the TSCA system, which prompted an announcement that it would be refining its approach to selecting and reviewing the scientific studies that are used to inform its evaluations.

The peer review was contracted with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in December 2019. The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that “provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.”

At the time, the EPA also noted that the review was being done in accordance with directives from the Biden administration, which it acknowledged earlier that month.

In March, the EPA released an emailed press release on its evaluation surrounding the policies, guidance, templates and regulations under the TSCA. The Agency said that it had identified several instances “where the approach for making determinations and managing risks associated with new chemicals can more closely align with the requirements of TSCA to ensure protections for human health and the environment, including the use of significant new use rules (SNURs) and assumptions related to worker exposures.”

The announcement stated that the EPA would stop issuing determinations of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” based on the existence of proposed SNURs.

Several weeks later, in May, the EPA released multiple announcements regarding toxic substances and chemicals. The agency first released a list of 390 chemicals that are expected to lose their confidential status and move to the public portion of the TSCA.

According to the EPA, the identities of these chemicals were reported as non-confidential during Chemical Data Reporting cycles from the 2012, 2016 and/or 2020 reporting periods. In accordance with the CDR rule and with TSCA sections 8 and 14, the EPA intends to update the TSCA Inventory listings for these chemicals to list the specific chemical identities on the public portion of the Inventory. 

At the time, the Agency also announced a plan to update its TRI, which includes expanding reporting requirements for certain chemicals and facilities, including PFAS.

The TRI moves also aim to improve transparency, as well as access to environmental information.

The plan includes expanding the scope of TRI reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities, including facilities that are not currently reporting on ethylene oxide (EtO, found commonly in sterilizers) releases, and providing new tools to make TRI data more accessible to the public.

The TRI update not only includes expanding reporting to EtO facilities but also:

  • TRI Reporting for Natural Gas Processing Facilities - EPA plans to finalize a rule to add natural gas processing facilities to the list of industry sectors covered under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) section 313.
  • TRI Reporting for Additional Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) - EPA will continue to add new PFAS to TRI, in addition to the three PFAS added in Reporting Year 2021. The provisions included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) automatically add certain PFAS to the TRI chemical list when certain conditions are met (see NDAA Section 7321(c)). EPA also anticipates the automatic addition of more PFAS, including perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), following EPA’s recent publication of a toxicity assessment on the chemical.
  • TRI Reporting for TSCA Workplan and High-Priority Chemicals - EPA plans to propose adding to TRI the chemicals included in the TSCA workplan and other substances designated as high-priority substances under TSCA. In addition, EPA plans to propose to list chemicals included in a 2014 petition received from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Many of these substances could be present in fence line communities, those communities within close proximity to industrial uses of these chemicals where releases to water, air, or land could be of a greater impact.

The EPA also planned to enhance the TRI tools themselves by including a demographic profile search option, launching a Spanish version of the TRI website and promoting the use of pollution prevention information.

In July, the EPA made several announcements regarding the TSCA: namely, that new members have been appointed to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals, and that the EPA will be holding a webinar on the development of the proposed data reporting rule.

Several months later, in October, the EPA announced the creation of the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap to address contamination regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

The PFAS Strategic Roadmap officially sets a series of timelines for the EPA to take specific actions and set bolder policies regarding PFAS. In addition, the plan also pledges to conduct more research and testing on hundreds of other PFAS, potentially listing additional compounds as hazardous substances in the future to better safeguard public health, protect the environment and hold polluters accountable.

By 2023, the roadmap aims to set a final rule for PFOS and PFOA regulation in drinking water and will designate two compounds as hazardous substances. That same year, the Agency intends to provide updated research on the available methods for disposing of or destroying PFAS through landfills, thermal treatment and deep-well injection.

More recently, in January, the EPA announced the automatic addition of four PFAS to the TRI list.

“We will use every tool in our toolbox to protect our communities from PFAS pollution,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff, at the time. “Requiring companies to report on how these PFAS are being managed, recycled, or released is an important part of EPA’s comprehensive plan to fill critical data gaps for these chemicals and take meaningful action to safeguard communities from PFAS.”

In the announcement, the EPA pointed out that the NDAA provides the framework for adding additional PFAS to the TRI each year. For TRI Reporting Year 2022 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2023), reporting is required for four additional PFAS.

Among other provisions, section 7321(c) of the NDAA identifies certain regulatory activities that automatically add PFAS or classes of PFAS to the TRI beginning Jan. 1 the following year, and the agency’s finalization of a toxicity value is one of the triggering actions.

Final Rule Issued

On July 18, the EPA published “Implementing Statutory Addition of Certain Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory Beginning With Reporting Years 2021 and 2022” in the Federal Register.

According to the final rule, the EPA will be updating the list of chemicals subject to toxic chemical release reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA).

Specifically, this action updates the regulations to identify five PFAS that must be reported pursuant to the NDAA. Because the action is being taken to conform the regulations to a Congressional legislative mandate, notice and comment rulemaking was unnecessary prior to publishing.

Three of the recently added PFAS include:

  • Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid also known as PFBS (Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CASRN) 375-73-5);
  • Perfluorobutanesulfonate (CASRN 45187-15-3); and
  • Potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (29420-49-3).

Two fluorinated polymers (PFAS, CASRN 203743-03-7 and PFAS, CASRN 65104-45-2) were also added.

According to the Agency, reporting forms for the additional PFAS will be due by July 1, 2023, for calendar year 2022 data. 

Additional reports have noted that in a 2019 law (P.L. 116–92), Congress directed the Agency to add PFAS to the TRI when the EPA finalizes toxicity values for them.

The Agency was reported to have released those values for PFBS and the two related compounds in 2021. 3M introduced those substances early in this century to replace a more toxic PFAS compound for use as a surfactant to make water- and stain-resistant coatings.

Per the 2019 law, the Agency is also required to add PFAS to the TRI following certain actions under the TSCA, which was noted to be the case for the two polymers.

The final rule is slated to go into effect on Aug. 17.


Tagged categories: Construction chemicals; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Fluoropolymer; Good Technical Practice; Government; hazardous materials; Hazardous waste; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Project Management; Regulations; Safety; Toxicity

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