EPA names two more chemicals as hazardous substances

April 22, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken further steps to protect public health, designating two chemicals that are widely used by manufacturers as hazardous substances.

Under the EPA’s final rule, perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are designated as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or EPA Superfund.

Exposure to per-and polyflouroalkyl substances, or PFAS, has been linked to cancers, impacts to the liver and heart, and immune and developmental damage to infants and children, the EPA said.

The action will enable the EPA to conduct investigations and compel polluters to pay for or conduct investigations and cleanup, rather than taxpayers, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said. The rule was proposed in February and builds on recent EPA action against contaminants in public water systems.

“Designating these chemicals under our Superfund authority will allow EPA to address more contaminated sites, take earlier action, and expedite cleanups, all while ensuring polluters pay for the costs to clean up pollution threatening the health of communities,” Regan said.
In addition to the final rule, the EPA is issuing a separate CERCLA enforcement discretion policy stating that the agency will focus enforcement on parties who significantly contributed to the release of PFAS chemicals into the environment.

Cleaning up PFAS quickly is crucial to prevent the chemicals from migrating in water and soil. Under the rule, entities are required to immediately report releases of PFOA and PFOS that meet or exceed the reportable quantity of 1 pound within a 24-hour period to the National Response Center, state, tribal, and local emergency responders, the EPA said.

The rule also requires federal entities that transfer or sell their property to provide notice about the storage, release or disposal of PFOA or PFOS on the property and guarantee cleanup. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to list and regulate these substances as hazardous materials under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, the EPA said.

The final action is based on significant scientific evidence that these substances, when released into the environment, may present a substantial danger to public health or welfare or the environment.

PFOA and PFOS can accumulate and persist in the human body for long periods of time, and evidence from scientific studies demonstrate that exposure to PFOA and PFOS is linked to adverse health effects, the EPA said.

The rule will be effective 60 days after it’s published in the Federal Register.

Photo by Andres Siimon on Unsplash

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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