EPA Issues Next PFAS Chemical Test Order

TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2023


Last Tuesday (Aug. 15), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its third Toxic Substances Control Act test order, requiring testing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances under the National PFAS Testing Strategy.

In the National Testing Strategy, the EPA assigned different PFAS into smaller categories based on similarities in structure, physical-chemical properties and existing toxicity data. The EPA then issues test orders for PFAS in specific categories that lack toxicity data to inform the agency’s understanding of the potential human health effects.  

The first test order was for 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine, a PFAS used in commercial firefighting foam. The second was for HFPO, a PFAS used to manufacture plastics.

“We still don’t know enough about the dangers that many PFAS might pose to human health,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff.

“We’re using all the tools at our disposal to rapidly gather data about these substances so that we can better understand the potential environmental and human health impacts of PFAS and take any necessary steps to address them.”  

First PFAS Test Order

In June of last year, the EPA issued its first TSCA test order under the National Testing Strategy.

The PFAS testing strategy was released to help identify PFAS data needs and requires testing to fill those gaps. The initiative is part of the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, which sets timelines from 2021 to 2024 to take specific actions and commit to bolder new policies to safeguard public health, protect the environment and hold polluters accountable.

For the first order issued in relation to the National PFAS Testing Strategy, the EPA selected 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine (CASRN 34455-29-3), a chemical substance surfactant used to make commercial fire-fighting foams and can also be found in certain floor finishes.

According to TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule reports, 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine has been manufactured (defined to include importing) in significant quantities (more than 25,000 pounds in a given year) and could be exposed to at least 500 workers in a given year.

Although there is some hazard and exposure information about this PFAS, the EPA found there is insufficient data to determine the effects on human health associated with the inhalation route of exposure. This test order will address this data need.

The Chemours Company, DuPont De Nemours Inc., National Foam Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc. are the recipients of this first test order. The TSCA requires a tiered testing process that covers the testing of physical-chemical properties and health effects following inhalation. Companies also have the option of providing the EPA with existing information that they believe EPA did not identify in its search for existing information.

The results of all the first-tier testing are required to be submitted to the EPA within 400 days of the effective date of the order and will inform the decision as to whether additional tests are necessary.

Latest Round

The EPA’s most recent action orders the Chemours Company, du Pont de Nemours and Company and 3M Company to conduct and submit testing on 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)propanoyl fluoride (HFPO-DAF).

The chemical is a substance used as a reactant in organic chemical manufacturing. HFPO-DAF is known to be used to make the chemical Hexafluoropropylene Oxide (HFPO) Dimer Acid (CASRN 13252-13-6), also known by the trade name GenX.

Additionally, HFPO-DA is used in the production of nonstick coatings, stain repellent and other consumer and industrial products and was widely used to replace PFOA. More than 1 million pounds of HFPO-DAF are manufactured each year, according to TSCA Chemical Data Reporting rule reports.

According to the release, after examining existing hazard and exposure data, the EPA concluded that HFPO-DAF may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The potential hazards from exposure to this chemical could reportedly include organ damage, including to the eyes and skin, as well as cancer. The EPA has also found that workers may be exposed to HFPO-DAF.

The agency adds that its recent proposal to regulate six PFAS in drinking water, including HFPO-DA and its salts, isomers and derivatives which includes HFPO-DAF, found there was a meaningful opportunity to reduce health risks to people consuming drinking water contaminated by these PFAS.

The test order is anticipated to help the EPA better understand the potential hazards and potential exposures associated with HFPO-DAF. 

The companies subject to the test order can reportedly conduct the tests as described in the order, including testing of physical-chemical properties and health effects following inhalation, or provide the EPA with existing information they believe EPA did not identify in its search, but which satisfies the order requirements.  

The order employs a tiered testing process, as TSCA requires. The results of all the first-tier testing are required to be submitted to EPA within 446 days of the effective date of the order and will inform the decision as to which additional tests are necessary.

The order and any data submitted in response to this order will be made publicly available on EPA’s website and in the applicable docket on www.regulations.gov, subject to confidentiality considerations under TSCA section 14. 

PFAS Drinking Water Standard

In March, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a proposal for the first-ever national drinking water standard for six PFAS. The action builds on President Joe Biden’s plan to combat PFAS pollution, as well as the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

The proposal, if finalized, would reportedly regulate PFOA and PFOS as individual contaminants, and will regulate four other PFAS—PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX Chemicals—as a mixture. Specifically, this would include:  

  • PFOA and PFOS: EPA is proposing to regulate PFOA and PFOS at a level they can be reliably measured at 4 parts per trillion.
  • PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX Chemicals: EPA is also proposing a regulation to limit any mixture containing one or more of PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and/or GenX Chemicals. For these PFAS, water systems would use an established approach called a hazard index calculation, defined in the proposed rule, to determine if the combined levels of these PFAS pose a potential risk.

Additionally, the proposed regulation would require public water systems to monitor for these chemicals, as well as require systems to notify the public and reduce PFAS contamination if levels exceed the proposed regulatory standards.

The EPA said that it anticipates over time, the rule would prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses. PFAS can cause serious health problems, including cancer, if people are exposed to them over a long period of time.

   

Tagged categories: 3M; Chemours; Coatings; Construction chemicals; DuPont; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Good Technical Practice; Government; hazardous materials; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Regulations; Testing + Evaluation; Toxicity

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.