The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken another step toward regulating perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Specifically, on February 20, 2020, the EPA issued a pre-publication version of a Supplemental Proposed Rule that could affect a host of businesses that traditionally have not had to concern themselves with Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) compliance and enforcement. The proposal concerns a subcategory of PFAS known as “Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylates and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonates” (collectively, LCPFAC) under TSCA. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the most problematic PFAS substances, are among the chemicals that would be regulated.
Per- and polyfluouroalykyl substances, or PFAS, are the subject of heightened scrutiny by federal and state governments as concerns rise about the tenacious chemicals’ impact on human health. PFAS are a group of several thousand synthetic chemical compounds resistant to heat, water, and oil that have become ubiquitous in modern life. The chemicals have been used since the 1940s to add water and stain repellency to fabric and carpet, to provide non-stick properties to food paper wrappings, and to make fire-fighting foams. They also are used in certain industrial operations, such as electroplating. While PFAS are useful for these and other purposes due to their hydrophobic and lipophobic properties, federal and state agencies have been scrutinizing the persistence of the chemical compounds, particularly in water sources.