Given the ubiquity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), new and different aspects of liability continue to trend. While many of the lawsuits involve allegations of environmental contamination or personal injury resulting from the impairment of public water systems, the landscape has expanded to other areas.
In the last eight months, the attorneys general of North Carolina, California, Wisconsin and Illinois have sued various primary manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as over a dozen secondary manufacturers of PFAS-containing products. Each lawsuit alleges that the manufacture and distribution of PFAS and PFAS-containing products has led to widespread environmental contamination and harmful exposure.
The term “phthalate” denotes a class of chemicals that have been used since the 1920s to improve the flexibility and durability of plastic. Accordingly, phthalates can be found in hundreds, if not thousands, of everyday products, ranging from food packaging to toys, medical devices, construction materials, textiles, cosmetics, soaps, and fragrances. Their ubiquity has led some to nickname them the “Everywhere Chemical.”
The Implications on EPCRA Reporting
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA) required that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) add certain poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). EPA’s final rule adding these PFAS to the TRI toxic chemicals list took effect on June 22, 2020. This marks the implementation of another important facet of EPA’s February 2019 PFAS Action Plan, which announced the agency’s intent to address the human health and economic impacts from PFAS in the environment.