In February 2019, the US EPA published its PFAS’s Action Plan that outlines concrete steps the agency is taking to address PFAS and to protect public health.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) uses a combination of regulatory and voluntary approaches, including Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) and the voluntary 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program.
Eight major manufacturers and processors of PFASs participated in the 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program to work toward a phase-out of PFOA and related substances by the end of 2015. The program stretched from 2006 through 2015 to provide an opportunity for development of alternatives which did not exist at the time of the program’s launch. Progress toward the 2015 deadline was measured through annual reports. The eight companies participating in the PFOA Stewardship Program met its goals. All public documents from the PFOA Stewardship Program are available in EPA Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2006-0621.
EPA has been reviewing hundreds of substitutes for PFOA, PFOS and other PFASs under EPA's New Chemicals Program since 2000. EPA reviews the new substances to identify whether the range of toxicity, fate and bioaccumulation issues that have caused past concerns with perfluorinated substances may be present, as well as any issues that may be raised by new chemistries, in order to ensure that the new chemicals may not present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment. For many PFAS chemicals, EPA's regulatory approach involves the use of TSCA §5(e) Consent Orders to require testing while allowing production and use with control measures, where appropriate.
In May 2016, EPA established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) which provide a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, including for susceptible subpopulations. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS should be compared with the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level. This lifetime health advisory is based on the latest health effects information for noncancer and cancer effects. The health advisory is not a legally enforceable federal standard and is subject to change as new information becomes available.
Focus of future activities in relation to risk reduction:EPA remains concerned about a limited number of ongoing uses of PFOA and related chemicals, which are still available in existing stocks or are being newly introduced by companies that did not participate in the PFOA Stewardship program. EPA will consider chemicals already on the market as the Agency identifies priorities for risk evaluation pursuant to section 6(b) of TSCA, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
- EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS.
- EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially CERCLA Section 102.
- EPA is currently developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of 2018.
- EPA is taking action in close collaboration with federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS by fall of 2018.
Overview of Risk Reduction Approaches
|Action||Path taken||BEPs Implemented||Category of PFASss addressed||Articles covered?||Life cycle stage(s) addressed||Method of approach||Public- private partnership encouraged?||Level of constraint|
2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program; work toward elimination of long-chain PFCAs and related substances from emissions and products by end of 2015
|Encourage industry phaseout||Emission controls and product content||Long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids and related substances||Yes||All||Regulatory||No||Fewer exemptions|
|Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) designates manufacture (including import) or processing of long-chain perfluoroalkyl sulfonates for any use as a significant new use, except for few ongoing use (40 CFR §721.9582)||Manage, manufacture, import, and processing||Minimisation of perfluoroalkyl sulfonates used||Perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs)||No||Chemical manufacture and import; processing of chemicals||Regulatory||No||Notification requirements prior to manufacturing, importing, or processing|
|Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) designates manufacture (including import) orprocessing of perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemical for use as part of carpets or to treat carpets (e.g., for use in the carpet aftercare market) as a significant new use, except for few ongoing uses (40 CFR §721.10536)||Manage manufacture, import, and processing||Minimisation of perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals used||Perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals||Yes||Chemical manufacture and import; processing of chemicals, articles||Regulatory||No||Notification requirements prior to manufacturing, importing, or processing|
Proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) to designate import of perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals, including in products, and domestic production or processing of these chemicals as significant new use, except for few ongoing uses (Proposed rule: 80 FR 2885)
|Manage manufacture, import, and processing||Minimisation of perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals used||Perfluoroalkyl carboxylate chemicals||Yes||Chemical manufacture and import; processing of chemicals, articles||Regulatory||No||Notification requirements prior to manufacturing, importing, or processing|